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Jerry’s Kids (Prospect Profiles): OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA

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Up next in our series of Prospect Profiles is the consesus #1 4-3 OLB in the draft this year: Akeem Ayers. Akeem Ayers was one of the top Defensive End recruits coming out of high school, but transitioned to linebacker after he redshirted his freshmen year. Someone left the series name “Jerry Kids” as a comment and I liked it so I’m using it this time. Keep the suggestions coming, maybe the name will change every time.

Ayers has very good size for a linebacker at 6-4 and 255 pounds, but enough athletic ability and fluidity to be considered at linebacker in the N.F.L.

At THIS moment I think that Akeem Ayers will be the Giants #1 draft prospect at 19. Whether or not he will last to 19 is a different story because like I said he’s the #1 4-3 OLB prospect. (unless teams think Von Miller can play outside in the 4-3). This is NOT my personal #1 choice, but I think it will be the Giants.


Born July 10, 1989.

6-4 255 lbs


Combine Numbers will be posted once they are available

projected 40 time: ( and

High: 4.79. Low 4.58 Average 4.68 40 projection: 4.64

What that projected 40 time means: A 4.64 Would have been the 4th fastest 40 time for a linebacker in last year’s combine, a 4.70 would still have been top 10 for linebackers. So it’s a pretty good time for a linebacker, and a really good time for 6-4 250+ plus linebacker.


Career:  215 tackles, 2 FF, 6 INT

2010: 68 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 INT

Big Games (His best statistical games and games vs Big Name opponets)

@ Kansas State 11 tackles, 1 sack, 1 pass defensed

vs Stanford 7 tackles, 1 pass defensed

@ Texas 6 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT,

@ Oregon 5 takles (throw away game team lost 60-13)


EagleBankBowl vs Temple 9 tackles, 1 INT, 1 TD

@ USC 9 tackles 1 pass defensed

@ Washington State 2 INT

Oregon 4 tackles, 1 INT

What is nice to see about Ayers is all of the interceptions and passes defensed as an OLB for U.C.L.A. He has 6 interceptions over the past two seasons and 7 Passes defensed, which is good for a linebacker.

He also played very well in his bowl game last year (no bowl game this year) where he even scored a Defensive touchdown.

Ayers, doesn’t have a ton of tackles, the question that teams must decide is that because he is used so much in coverage or because he lacks instincts in the run game?


[pro-player width=’530′ height=’253′ type=’video’][/pro-player]

[pro-player width=’530′ height=’253′ type=’video’][/pro-player]

Scouting Report


Positives: Has ideal frame for playing outside in a 3-4 defensive scheme, has enough bulk to lockdown strongside linebacker duties and can fill a lot of space… Has size and speed to line up at several positions on the field, has lined up at defensive end and multiple linebacker positions in the past… Solid open-field tackler, plays under control and wraps up, does not like to dive at ball carriers… Does not often get fooled by misdirection plays, but could be a result of taking slightly too long to diagnose plays at the snap… Pretty good at scraping through traffic, although a little too tentative to attack blockers and take them out of the play… Is a very able run blitzer, blitzes shallow enough to not take himself out of plays, rarely misses tackles in the backfield… Has good technique when engaged with blockers, does not give up hand control and can often get a hand of two on the ball carrier, even when being blocked… Is an above-average defender in zone coverage, has the ability to make plays in coverage (six career interceptions).

Negatives: Does not possess great timed speed (bartolis note: not bad either), but that is to be expected for his size, is more quick than fast with very good agility… Takes a little too long to diagnose plays, which allows ball carriers to get extra yardage on his side of the field (read instincts)... Has the ability to get to the quarterback in some situations (14 career sacks), but needs to develop more pass-rushing moves to be a consistent pass rusher in the NFL… Will not be able to run with most tight ends and running backs in coverage, needs to improve footwork and hip-turn technique in order to play man coverage (not many SAM linebackers do)… Not particularly intense or explosive, plays under control, but lacks elite aggressiveness at position… Production seems to decline in some big games (15 total tackles against Stanford, Oregon and USC combined this year)… Has the potential to be a very solid linebacker in the NFL, but lacks extreme upside in any one particular facet of the game.

10/8/10: I loved Ayers’ game tape against Texas. He can drop in coverage, play the run, and really compete on the field. There is no denying his talent level, but when I watched his game against Washington State he was a little invisible and didn’t make his presence felt enough. As a pass-rusher, he is a little overrated – I just haven’t seen it yet, but some coach will believe he can be taught.

Not surprisingly Ayers has had to do a lot for the Bruins’ defense this season. Through seven games he has 41 tackles and 3.0 sacks. He also leads the team with 7.0 tackles-for-loss and two interceptions. On such a young defense, Ayers has held things together for the most part and deserves a ton of credit for holding the relatively explosive offenses of Houston and Texas to 13 and 12 points, respectively.

Ayers is big and fast and smart. He can line up at an end spot just to mix things up or attack the quarterback from his usual outside linebacker position. With his speed and instincts, Ayers is even versatile enough to play in the middle of the linebacker corps. If he does leave UCLA a year early, he should be a top 15 pick.

85% sports

  • can play sideline to sideline and has great range
  • good awareness and has a nose for the ball
  • understands and creates leverage very well going up against linemen, gets under pads and can drive them backward
  • can dip shoulder and get around the edge easily on way to quarterback
  • extends arms well
  • has improved at shedding blocks
  • quick
  • good instincts
  • productive
  • Negatives

    • needs to improve tackling
    • goes for hit sometimes instead of making sure tackle, which leads to longer runs by ball carrier
    • a few times has overrun plays because of his good speed
    • pass rushing could improve some

    NFL Draft (written after last year)


    When Ayers does get his hands on the pigskin the play is far from over; he found the end zone three times last season, including the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter of UCLA’s bowl win over Temple. He also has a blocked punt on his resume and could be an immediate impact player on special teams at the next level. Ayers is at his best when he can shift through the trash, as he still needs to do a better job of disengaging from blocks. He has the size to do it—the SAM linebacker exceeds the prototype at 6’4”, 254 pounds and his long, lanky frame appears capable of adding more bulk as he grows older. It looks like Ayers has the tools to play outside linebacker in either a three-four or four-three defense.

    The UCLA linebacker has the bulk, length, frame and athletic ability that NFL decision makers dream of. Standing at 6’4” and 250-plus pounds with a frame that can add more weight, Ayers moves around the field with a fleetness of foot that you’d expect from a much smaller player. The first thing that stands out about his game tape is that he is an absolute turnover machine from his strong side linebacker position—he creates fumbles and interceptions at a startling rate. In 2009, more often than not those picks turned into touchdowns—he returned three of his four interceptions for scores as a sophomore. When asked to rush the passer (six sacks in 2009) Ayers shows very good burst coming off the line of scrimmage. He turns the corner with ease and shows a decent understanding of how to use his arms to keep offensive linemen from getting a grip. NFL teams that run multiple formations and demand positional versatility will fall head over heels for this Bruin. However, if he’s going to succeed as a linebacker at the NFL level, he needs to get more comfortable playing the run on a number of levels. First and foremost, his tackling must improve. That versatility can be a curse as much as it is a blessing—did someone say jack-of-all-trades, master of none? We value a player who can contribute in every aspect of the game and believe Ayers can be a first round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft should he decide to declare.

    CBS Draft Scout

    Among the most athletic and versatile defenders in the draft, Ayers’ upside appears limitless. Scouts would be wise to remember the transition other athletic and only moderately instinctive linebackers like Derrick Johnson, Keith Rivers and Aaron Curry have had in transferring their skills to the NFL before falling in love with Ayers’ flashy plays.

    Read & React: Average instincts and is prone to biting on play-action and taking false steps on the reverse. Possesses rare agility and straight-line speed for the position, typically allowing him to make the play.

    Run defense: Has size, strength and willingness to take on blockers at the point of attack. Seems to enjoy the physicality of the game, showing good upper-body strength and quick, active hands to quickly shed blocks. Unselfish defender that typically maintains gap discipline.

    Pass defense: Can be fooled by play-action but is surprisingly fluid in coverage for a big linebacker. Relies too much on reading the eyes of the quarterback in coverage. Has proven to be a playmaker, but could be fooled by savvy passers at the next level. Good ball skills. Has six career interceptions, returning two for touchdowns.

    Tackling: Generally a reliable tackler, leading with his shoulder or getting too high going for the highlight-reel hit and bouncing off the ballcarrier. Can improve as a wrap-up tackler. Can get a bit out of control when pursuing laterally and overrun the play, but is so long and athletic, he’s usually able to trip up the ballcarrier to prevent cutback opportunities. Good effort laterally and downfield in pursuit. Good strength for the drag-down tackle. Brings his hips as a tackler, creating explosive hits to force the ball out. Has seven forced fumbles in three seasons.

    Pass Rush/Blitz: One of Ayers’ better areas. Good burst off the snap as a standup and hand-down rusher. Capable of crossing the face of the tackle with his explosiveness and possesses good flexibility and balance to scrape the corner and close quickly. Relies on his speed to rush the passer, showing little in terms of true pass rush technique, at this point.

    Intangibles: Redshirted in 2007. Arrived at UCLA and was known as a prankster, but has matured into a team leader, according to those close to the program. Voted a team captain in 2010. Has played in all 37 games of his career … History major who earned a spot on the Honor Roll in 2007.

    Big Board Rankings (1/12/2010) (red=before Giants pick, green after the giants pick)

    CBS Draft Scout 25th

    ESPN Big Board 18 15th

    Sidelinescouting 19th

    NFL Draft bible 15th

    FantasyFootballToolbox 15th 25th

    FootballfanSpot 16th

    Most Likely Landing Spots

    Detroit Lions 13th overall. Lions fans REALLY want a linebacker because they have nothing at linebacker and fans are confident with their defensive line and the team seams confident in their offensive line.

    Jacksonville Jaguars-They also have questions at linebacker this upcoming season and while I think their G.M. seems to prefer building the trenches (Eugene Monroe, Eben Britton, Tyson Alaualu, D’anthony Smith) have been their last four high picks, it doesn’t mean that the Jaguars won’t go linebacker this year, but I’d imagine Defensive end is more of a possibility though because they still have nothing at defensive end.

    New England Patriots 17th-The Patriots love versatile players and Ayers fits that mold. Bill Belichick could really do some neat things with Ayers.

    Where the Mocks Have Him Falling 1st round 13th overall Detroit Lions Round 2 pick #35 Bengals

    Rob Rang Draft scout 1st round 13th overall Detroit Lions

    Chad Reuter Draft Scout 1st round 17th overall New England Patriots 1st round 19th overall NY Giants 1st round 14th overall St. Louis Rams 1st round pick 20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Kiper Jr. 13th overall Detroit Lions

    Bartolis Final Thoughts

    Akeem Ayers is a versatile, big bodied prototypical SAM linebacker, which many argue is the Giants #1 need for the 2011 N.F.L. Season. Ayers has good speed for his size, can rush the passer, play zone coverage (and might really excel in Fewell’s read and react scheme). He can also chase the ball carrier in pursuit and has some hustle.

    But Ayers is RAW, he still has a year or two of learning, to me, to be an everyday starter as the 4-3 SAM linebacker. Ayers is also not a punishing tackler, which you think he should because of his size and speed. You would like to see him explode at bowl over running backs, but often that is not the case.

    I personally do not Love Ayers, I’m not sold he’s a top 20 player in the N.F.L., which is where the Giants are drafting.

    Sure he’s versatile and can make plays all over the field and cause turnovers, but he also seems tentative to want to hit somebody and has questionable instincts.

    His first step always seems to be back before it’s forward (not that that’s a bad thing he doesnt’ want to get burned, but that just speaks a little to me about a lack of instincts) and while he can disengage from blockers because of his long length I don’t think he’s the physical, tough, football player we all want for the Giants linebacker corps.

    I’m not saying that Ayers isn’t going to be a serviceable starter in the N.F.L. I’m saying I don’t think he’ll ever dominate in the N.F.L.

    CBS draft scout says something about how his career path might be similar to Curry, Johnson, and Keith Rivers, but I”m not sure he’s really like any of those players, but if I had to choose one I’d say Curry.

    Player Comparison:  Low End: Manny Lawson I’m not talking about they are the same kind of player coming out of college, where Lawson had VERY good speed, and was more of a tackler, pass rush speciliast with questions about his coverage, but I’m talking about I think on the low end he could be what manny lawson is in the pros, a decent linebacker who can do different things, but doesn’t dominate a game. If he doesn’t develop well he could be a Manny Lawson.

    High End: Karlos Dansby at the high end i think he can be a Karlos Dansby type of player. Dansby is versatile enough to play in the 3-4 and 4-3 and anywhere in those spots (whether it be inside or outside). Dansby also has similar size and speed and has grown into a leader. Dansby is a very very solid N.F.L. player who isn’t the same kind of impact player as a Brian Urlacher or James Harrison, but he’s a good player any team would have (maybe not as his salary) who after years of learning has good leadership ability and can do any thing the coaches ask of him pretty well, but not great. To me that can be Akeem Ayers, but I don’t know if it will be.

    To me, I would not be upset or outraged if the Giants draft Ayers at 19th overall because that would be appropriate value. He is close to a top 20 player in the N.F.L. draft, but I personally think he’s a bit of a project. I like that he has improved his all around game since last year and that he can create turnovers and he should be a pretty good N.F.L. player with time.

    Unfortuantely for me, I don’t know if he has the intesnity and desire to be a dominating N.F.L. player and I won’t know that because I won’t talk to his coaches or speak to him personally so if that checks out with the Giants I’m fine with the pick, I just won’t love the pick.

    This poll is going to assume that Ayers won’t make it into the second round.

    [poll id=”33″]

    I’m interested in knowing what you guys thinks so leave your opinion.

    Previous Profiles

    Bruce Carter OLB

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    10 Responses to “Jerry’s Kids (Prospect Profiles): OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA”

    1. Steve B. says:

      Wasn’t really impress with what I saw of Ayers, didn’t really stand out to me, and seemed to be a little tentative in making the hit.

      I just never said Wow, but maybe thats rare for LB’s.

      • Agree 100 percent with you Steve.

        He’s solid, but who wants solid in the first round? He doesn’t bring the Smash Mouth mentality in my opinion. (of course If the giants draft him I hope he proves me wrong)

        • Mike K says:

          Sounds like more of a safe pick, as opposed to JPP last year. Depends on who else is on the board. Ayers sounds like a guy if he slips to the 2nd round, maybe the Giants look to trade up in the 2nd round to get him.

    2. Jason C. says:

      I like Ayers, and I think his combine performance will show if he has the drive to go. If he has a sub par combine, stay far away, he’s one of those guys that NEEDS a big performance to guarantee a first round selection.

    3. Albert Bassano says:

      I personally hope the Giants fill their OL needs, specifically tackle, via free agency… Oakland’s Robert Gallery is out there…. and use their 19 on a player like this

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