It’s quite the understatement to say that things in the NFL move fast. A little over a year ago, Los Angeles Rams fans were mourning the loss of running back Todd Gurley. But after selecting Florida State alum Cam Akers in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft , the tide has completely turned.
Capitalizing off his promising rookie campaign, the Rams will look to Akers as their go-to back for the 2021 season. If there was any doubt before about who would be holding the mantle, head coach Sean McVay made his intentions clear earlier this year in a press conference:
“You could see [Akers] always had a real and authentic confidence. But then as he’s getting more and more comfortable for the different ways that we were able to utilize him, I think he can come alive in the pass game. I think he can continue to play at a high level. Really, I think he’s an every-down back. I think he’s a special player.”
Is Cam Akers Poised to Make a Big Jump?
Coming out of Florida State, the most appealing factor about Akers was his quickness and ability to make dynamic cuts in the backfield. Some naysayers pointed out that he needed to improve his ability to read defenders in pass blocking scenarios. Furthermore, some questioned whether or not he would make a competent receiver in the passing game. However, Akers has proved doubters wrong not only with his explosive, yet meticulous, bursts out of the backfield, but his affinity for hauling down passes thrown in his direction as well.
In the beginning of the 2020 season, McVay enlisted a committee backfield approach, with Akers, Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown. Although the scheme worked initially, Akers was only subjected to limited rep time because of injuries. However, as the season progressed and Akers continuously exhibited strong flashes of play, Akers eventually emerged as the sort of workhouse back the Rams were depending on him developing into.
In the Week 12 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers, Akers rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown on only nine carries. During his Week 14 outing against the New England Patriots, Akers rushed for 171 yards on 29 carries. He also added two receptions for 23 yards to his stat line. Akers followed that performance up with a solid outing against the New York Jets with 65 yards on 15 carries.
Arguably, Akers saved his most impressive work on the field for the postseason. In the Wild Card game against the Seattle Seahawks, Akers rushed for 131 yards on 28 carries and a touchdown. He also hauled in two receptions for 45 yards, in the 30-20 win. Akers followed up that stellar performance against the Green Bay Packers , with 90 rushing yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.
Akers’ Role Should Grow in New Rams Offense
While the new addition of Matthew Stafford under center is a big focus for fans right now, Akers is poised to make a significant contribution out of the backfield. What was at times a frustratingly predictable offense that the Rams trotted out in 2020, the team is entering the 2021 season primed with myriad offensive weapons to utilize.
With more carries, Akers is primed to have a breakout season in 2021. He has an intrinsic patience for allowing schematic holes to materialize and finding open space. Not to mention, his quick feet, dynamic cutting ability and burst out of the backfield will continue to make him a vital threat to defenses. While the team currently has some weaknesses along the interior line, the seemingly revamped offensive line group should have no problem creating holes for Akers to take advantage. Along with the steely presence of Stafford manning the controls, the Rams should definitely take a giant leap this season, offensively. Akers will surely be a big part of that transformation.