Detroit Lions Draft Prospects: Akeem Ayers

Akeem Ayers’ twitter account said the following at about 6 p.m. local time:

Ready to get off this plane to see what Detroit has in store for me.

Life in the blogosphere runs on a funny clock that ticks when one thing is said so it can tock when the opposite happens. I guess that means I get the credit for Akeem Ayers landing in Detroit to visit the Lions thanks to my post this morning that he doesn’t appear to be a fit for the Lions.

Continue reading as I wipe the egg off my face by profiling Akeem Ayers, the former UCLA linebacker.

Akeem Ayers

Akeem Ayers
Outside Linebacker, UCLA

Height: 6’3″
Weight: 254 lbs.
Arm Length: 33 in.
Hand Size: 9 in.
40-yard dash: 4.88 sec
(4.69 sec at pro day)

Watch his combine workout here

NFL.com Combine Profile Overview:

Ayers is very impressive on the hoof and he has the speed and athleticism to make an immediate impact at the next level. He has the range and ball skills to play strong side linebacker in a 4-3, and the balance and closing burst to play outside linebacker in a 3-4. He lacks the lower body strength to be stout against the run, but uses his long arms to keep blockers away from his body and flashes the ability to quickly shed. Ayers is a versatile athlete with great measurables that projects to be selected in the middle of the first round.

My post this morning that stated that Ayers may not be a fit for the Lions was predicated on the fact that only one of the teams mentioned as “strongly interested” in the linebacker run a 4-3 defense. So how could Ayers fit in with the Lions? The Detroit Free Press’ Carlos Monarrez addressed that:

Ayers, a 6-foot-3 and 254-pound linebacker from UCLA, could fill a big need for the Lions, who have parted ways with five-time Pro Bowler Julian Peterson on the strong side. Ayers is considered versatile with enough speed and size to drop into coverage, rush the passer and stop the run.

Julian Peterson’s versatility meant that he could play an entire game and have little to no impact and sideline to sideline speed to commit a personal foul penalty along either boundary. I can’t blame Lions fans for picturing Peterson’s role because he didn’t seem to do much of anything.

Ayers has the size that will make scouts drool but has been accused of taking plays off and not always bringing the “want to” to the field. Those sort of negatives make visits so important. Martin Mayhew attended the UCLA pro day and undoubtedly has received a ton of input from scouts and watched some video himself. The visit will give him the time to down man-to-man and evaluate Ayers on a personal level.

Akeem Ayers lives up to his physical potential when his head is screwed on straight. He was a player that did a little bit of everything at UCLA and showed an ability to drop into coverage as well as rushing the passer from a three-point stance. It seems his highest upside comes as a pass rushing outside linebacker, a trait the Lions would utilize less than others. On the other hand, that ability would be an added dimension for the Lions to keep opposing offenses guessing. Above all, Ayers showed a playmaking ability the Lions severly lack at the outside linebacker position.

The Lions may or may not be interested in Akeem Ayers as their first round pick but want to do their due diligence in preparing for all possibilities. Wes Bunting of the National Football Post recently took some time to highlight several names that could be second round steals due to the depth of the draft. Akeem Ayers made that list:

Ayers is a first-round talent with a lot of versatility. But, his overall mental make-up has been questioned by some NFL teams I have spoke with, which could cause him to slide outside the top 32 picks.

What do you think Lions fans, legitimate interest or contingency plan?

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Tags: Akeem Ayers Detroit Lions NFL Draft Outside Linebacker

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