Mock Draft Spotlight: UCLA LB Akeem Ayers

The outside linebacker drew the eye of, and a comparison to, Terrell Suggs.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Saturday, April 23rd, 2011 at 10:31 am | Categories: 2011 NFL Draft, Mock Draft Spotlight, Ryan Mink

UCLA outside linebacker Akeem Ayers says one of his favorite NFL players is Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs.
 
“I just like the way he plays,” Ayers told the NFL Network. “He’s all over the field. His playing style is just nasty, so physical. He’s able to do so many things.”

Draft Profile: Akeem Ayers
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Strangely enough, Ayers has followed a similar road throughout this year’s scouting process and drawn comparisons to Baltimore’s Pro Bowler. If he ends up like Suggs, Ayers could be a steal for the Ravens at the end of the first round, as Sean Leahy of USA Today predicts.
 
The pre-combine buzz about Ayers was that he was an athletic freak. Fast, explosive, able to play in reverse for pass coverage – he could do it all.
 
Then the combine happened.
 
Ayers ran a 4.84 40-yard dash, the exact same time as Suggs and among the slowest of outside linebackers.
 
Like Suggs, Ayers’ stock went tumbling. In early mock drafts he was a mid-round selection. After the combine he fell into the second round.
 
“That’s not really something I have control over,” Ayers said of where he’s selected. “I definitely think I have first-round ability. When you turn on the film, I definitely think my playing skills are first round.”
 
Ayers is excellent on tape. He came out of college after a junior season in which he recorded 68 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions and two fumbles. The 6-foot-3, 254-pound All-Pac 10 performer notched 24 ½ tackles for loss over his final two years.
 
This past season, he split his time between rushing the quarterback as a 4-3 defensive end and standing up as an outside linebacker. Ayers projects well as a 3-4 outside linebacker hybrid.
 
“The guy that I think is kind of a Suggs-like player in this draft is Akeem Ayers,” ESPN’s Mel Kiper said.
 
“Even though [Ayers] wasn’t as productive as Suggs was at Arizona State, he’s a different kind of player. He’s a guy that can play in reverse, he can play the run well and also give you enough of a pass rush.”
 
Ayers rebounded from his combine performance at his pro day, in which he ran a 4.69 40-yard dash and benched 225 pounds 25 times.
 
He is now creeping back up into the first round in many mock drafts. He’s at No. 21 in the first round for Kiper and went from No. 38 in Todd McShay’s mock draft to the final pick in the first round in his latest version.

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