Player Profile #21 – Akeem Ayers

“He can do the wrong thing on a play, but he’ll end up right where the action is.”

That’s how UCLA DT David Carter described his teammate LB Akeem Ayers, one of the top defensive prospects in this year’s draft. In three years with the Bruins defense, he was a big-play performer, with four touchdowns on defense and another on special teams as a freshman when he blocked a punt.

Ayers always seemed to be at the wrong place at the right time. Like the interception and TD he had in 2009 against Oregon. He rushed Ducks QB Nate Costa who was backed up in the end zone. Costa faked a hand-off and then threw the ball. Ayers jumped in the air, grabbed the ball out of mid-air and got his feet down inside the end zone for the score.

Great instincts from Ayers? “I was supposed to drop into coverage,” Ayers admitted. “I got sucked in on the play action.”

It happened over and over during Ayers career. Here’s his story: 

PERSONAL FILE

Akeem Christopher Ayers

Born – July 10, 1989 in Los Angeles.

Family – Mother is Latonya King, father unidentified. He has a brother Kevin and sister Jonnoe.

BODY OF WORK

  • Height – 6-feet, 3 inches.
  • Weight – 254 pounds. (Pro Day 259 pounds.)
  • Arm – 33 inches.
  • Hand – 9 inches.
  • 40-yard dash – 4.81 seconds (Pro Day 4.7.)
  • 20-yard dash – 2.77 seconds (2.72.)
  • 10-yard dash – 1.68 seconds (1.62.)
  • Bench press – 18 repetitions at 225 pounds (22.)
  • Vertical jump – 31 inches (34.)
  • Broad jump – 9-feet, 8 inches.

HIGH SCHOOL

Ayers was part of the graduating class of 2007 at Verbum Dei High School, a private Catholic all-male school in the Watts section of south-central Los Angeles. He lettered three seasons in the Eagles program for head coach Kendrick Knox, playing DE, LB and WR.

2006 – Ayers had 94 tackles and 2 QB sacks. He caught 21 passes for 413 yards and 9 TDs. He also returned 20 kickoffs for an average of 31.3 yards. He was named CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Defensive Player of the Year as led Verbum Dei to CIF Mid-Valley championship.

2005 – Finished up with 116 tackles, 23 sacks, an interception and 5 recovered fumbles. Offensively, he caught 19 passes for 441 yards and 7 TDs. Was first-team CIF SS-MV first-team defense.

2004 – He had 87 tackles, 18 sacks and 2 blocked punts. He caught 4 passes for 132 yards.

RECRUITING

Four-star recruit by all the scouting services, he received offers from UCLA, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Oregon, Southern Cal and Washington State. He committed to the Bruins in August 2006.

COLLEGE

Ayers was a History major at the University of California-Los Angeles.

2010 – (Captain) He started all 12 games and was fourth on the team with 68 total tackles. His game of the season came in Austin when he had an INT, 7 tackles, a forced fumble and a sack in a 22-point victory over the Longhorns. He earned third-team honors on the Associated Press All-America team and was a first-team All-Pac 10 selection. He was named defensive co-winner of UCLA’s Henry “Red” Sanders Award as MVP.

2009 – Ayers started all 13 games at strong side LB in the Bruins defense. In the EagleBank Bowl, he returned an interception for the winning points in a victory over Temple. Ayers was named the game’s MVP. He was an All-Pac 10 honorable mention. He was named the defensive winner of UCLA’s Don Brown Memorial Award as the most improved player.

2008 – He appeared 12 games with 3 starts at strong side LB. In his first game playing special teams against Tennessee he blocked a punt and returned it for a TD. He received honorable mention, All-Pac 10 honors.

2007 – Redshirt season.

 Year

 

G

 

S

Tot.

Tkl.

 

TFL

 

Sks.

 

INT

Def.

TDs

 

FF

 

RF

2010

12

12

68

10

4

2

0

2

2

2009

13

13

75

14.5

6

4

3

5

2

2008

12

3

40

5

4

0

0

1

0

2007

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Totals

37

28

183

29.5

24

6

3

8

4

EVALUATION FOR PRO FOOTBALL

Strengths – Good size, overall strength and quickness, Ayers is a very agile linebacker. He doesn’t run fast in the 40-yard dash, but tape shows him moving swiftly laterally when in pursuit of the ball. Loves the action and enjoys the physical end of the game, not shying away from taking on blockers at any time. Although he can be fooled in coverage, he’s proven over his college career to be very good at making plays in coverage. Needs continued work on rushing the passer; he’s pretty much a speed rusher, and doesn’t have much in the way of pass rush technique or moves. Decent tackler, although he needs to wrap up better; he can hit with an explosive burst. During his time with the Bruins, he showed leadership skills and was voted team captain as a junior.

Weaknesses – Good strength, but it’s all in his upper body, i.e. he doesn’t have a lot of sand in his butt. He can get overpowered at the point of attack at times, although he has long arms and good hands that allow him to handle and shed blockers. He’s not a real instinctual player and can be fooled on play-action, draws, fakes and reverses; takes him awhile to sniff out those types of plays. Likes to read the eyes of the quarterback when he is dropping into coverage Sometimes gets out of control in working to make the big, highlight reel hit; needs to be more disciplined in making sure he has the tackle.

Analysis – Very talented, athletic and dedicated linebacker, who has enough skills to play outside in the 4-3, inside or outside in the 3-4 scheme.

WHAT THE SCOUTS SAY

A scout for an AFC team said – “He’s the most-underrated guy in this draft. I wish he had stayed another year at UCLA; I think it would have made him a better player. But this guy has everything you are looking for and he seems to be a good kid.”

Another scout for an AFC team said – “He’s a player. He’s not a perfect linebacker, or a perfect athlete, but he’s a football player. How many TDs did he have, four or five? One is luck, that many means he’s in the right places at the right time.”

WHAT HE SAYS

“I saw a lot of people taking the wrong routes, coming up as a kid, just doing the wrong things. I learned from there and have carried it throughout my life as I’m about to enter the NFL. You see guys getting in trouble, but you also see the good in people. It’s just a matter of always learning.”

WHAT OTHERS SAY

UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel – “He’s unique. He’s as instinctive as any defensive player I have been around. That puts him in a position to make big plays. Sometimes it puts him in trouble because he relies on those instincts and he ends up wrong. You don’t want to coach him out of them, because we benefit from them so often.”

DOES HE FIT WITH THE CHIEFS?

Absolutely he fits, and it may be at inside LB, rather than outside LB. Read again the words of one of the scouts about Ayers being “a football player.” That’s what Pioli/Haley are looking for – football players. Ayers certainly qualifies under almost every criteria we’ve heard from them.


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