Cam Akers – Florida St. – 5’10” 217 lbs. – 6/22/99 (20 years old)
Fair warning up front, I’m a ‘Noles fan. And yes, it’s been a terrible few years. For the duration of Akers time at FSU, the Seminoles were a mess from scheme to play calling to the offensive line, and just general motivation. However, Akers was one of the few bright spots of these teams. He doesn’t have the highest top end speed or the best acceleration, but he brings a combination of balanced running with explosive play ability along with a natural receiving ability. Donkey Teeth recently ranked Akers #18 overall in his top 20 dynasty running back rankings and Alfred ranked him #4 among rookie running backs in his post combine running back rankings. Here’s what I saw from Akers in my film review:
- Akers is a runner who maintains his low center of gravity until he’s ready to burst. In most of the clips below, you can see Akers stay low behind the line and then find his spot.
- At times, this did become a problem though as he tends to get too far out in front and drop his head, leaving some yards on the field.
- He’s not a bruiser, but is more than capable of being physical through the line, pulling past an arm tackle, or dragging a defender for a couple extra yards.
- His balance and agility allow him to find unique ways to gain a few extra yards at the end of plays. Whether that’s getting a hand down and lunging forward or rolling out of a tackle, he just finds a way to add yards. Has a nose for 1st downs or the end zone.
Here’s a look at a tough run against Bama in 2017. Akers cuts laterally to find the hole on the right side. Then, he uses his jump cut to make the first defender in the hole miss. He gets grabbed by 2 defenders from behind, but gets forward for a few more yards. This isn’t a home run play or even anything special, but it’s a nice, physical run from Akers showing he has that trick available.
- His feet and agility are what make Akers a special talent. He can get in and out of areas with the best of them. And believe me, he’s had to find space behind the FSU O line.
- While his acceleration isn’t elite, his stop and go ability is impressive. At almost any speed, he can shut it down and make a move.
- Akers has a quick, nasty cut back move and a tremendous spin move that he utilizes to leave defenders in the middle of nowhere.
- There are times where his ability to make moves gets him in trouble and he will get caught dancing while trying to make something happen.
- While the top end speed isn’t the best, he’s more than capable of breaking a long run.
The safety is out of position and lane integrity didn’t exist, but Akers finds the hole, runs the first two defenders into each other and then hits the jets to pull away from the safeties. Give him an opening, and he’s gone.
- As with most top level RBs coming out of high school, Akers could simply use his natural abilities to dominate the field.
- Through his 3 years in Tallahassee, Akers has become a more patient runner and has benefited him both behind the line and in the open field.
- Akers ran out of the shotgun, RPO, power running schemes, and direct snaps at FSU.
- While he’s not quite as polished of an interior runner as Jonathan Taylor, there are no concerns about him being limited at the next level.
In his freshman season, Akers would’ve hit the counter immediately or ran straight into the hole where the play was designed. As a junior, he waits for his blocks to get up to the second level before cutting it back and hitting the jets. Makes one defender miss in the open field with his cutback and then fights for those last couple yards.
- His receiving numbers aren’t eye popping, but among the top tier backs, I believe he has the second best hands to J.K. Dobbins.
- He was used out of the backfield and split wide as a receiving option. He runs his routes aggressively rather than floating into space.
- There were times where his screen routes ran parallel or behind the QB, but with the number of option plays FSU ran, it’s tough to pin that on him vs play calling.
- His hands are above average for an RB. He can grab the ball out away from him and can catch while in stride when given the opportunity (poor pass below).
- Once he gets the ball, he’s a handful in the open field and can typically be counted on to win that first one on one match up with a defender.
Here’s another clip from the 2017 game vs Bama. This may have been the last time FSU played with any heart (pre-Francois injury in this game). Anyway, enough rambling, Akers breaks out hard to the outside. The OLB assigned to him has no chance to keep up. Akers uses the defenders momentum against him and cuts back, breaking off the defender. My one complaint here is that he broke it back inside rather than out, but to be fair, the safety you see at the end was sitting on the outside.
Just one more clip. Here is Akers getting to the outside. He cuts back and gives the first defender a nice stiff arm and is off to the races. Yes, he does get caught at the end, but the safeties had good angles. He loses just enough speed avoiding the guy diving at his feet to allow the next defender to get there. Some have questioned his big play capability, but its not a concern of mine.
As a parting note, Akers is likely the most divisive player on film. When you watch the film, there are clear glimpses into what made him such an elite prospect coming out of high school and for the NFL. However, there are also times that he goes nowhere, but I attribute that more to the terrible offense and offensive line play rather than any lack of ability from Akers.
Before I sat down to do the film review, I wanted to have Akers up at the 2 spot in my rookie rankings. Well, can’t put him above Dobbins and if you’re in a standard league or prefer to take a safer approach, Jonathan Taylor is likely your guy. Akers is a dual threat out of the backfield though, and that’s why I believe he has the upside of top 3 back in this class.