There are certain to be fans of this NFL franchise who are also fans of FSU. Like every football passionate person out there, we all want to see our school’s players land with our NFL franchise of choice.
Even I have to admit, covering one of the many Buckeyes (the school I was raised to cheer for) who get drafted each year, or covering a member of the Arizona State Sun Devils (my Alma Mater) in the NFL would be great.
Beyond the personal connection though, there’s the on-field production, and this weighs in much heavier than any school allegiance ever could.
Your NFL team may not draft your collegiate players, but they also might be better off for it. Or, they may have missed out on a golden opportunity. Which will Cam Akers be if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers don’t draft him?
Let’s take a look.
Cam Akers’ Collegiate Career
His first season on campus was Dalvin Cook’s first season in the NFL, and Akers promptly put 194-carries, 1,025-rushing yards, 7 touchdowns, 16 receptions, 116-yards and one receiving touchdown on record in his freshman campaign.
Speaking of records, his first-year rushing yards production beat Cook’s previous freshman record. Quite the way for young Akers to make his arrival known in Tallahassee.
Moving on, Akers would continue to lead the team in rushing each of the next two seasons, topping out at 1,144-yards on the ground in 2019. He also scored 14 rushing touchdowns in what became his final season and added another four receiving scores, bringing his touchdown catch total to seven in three seasons.
That’s not all he did though, Akers’ high school quarterbacking days appeared from time to time as well, as the Seminoles stand-out completed five of eight pass attempts for 97-yards in college. Small numbers, granted, but an example of how many things Akers could potentially bring to the NFL stage.
After three years, Akers decided to forgo his Senior season and enter the NFL Draft. He leaves the Seminoles’ program as the school’s sixth-leading rusher all-time, behind the likes of Cook, Warrick Dunn and a few others. He also left the school sixth all-time in total touchdowns scored among skill position players.
I know you’ve heard this word emphasized a lot lately, but versatility is the thing Akers brings to the table which makes him special.
586 rushing attempts and 69 receptions means he touched the ball an average of just over 18 times per game. That’s a lot of potential wear and tear on a running back, but it’s also a lot of chances to see how important he was to his program.
Given his ability to produce on top of it all, with a relatively sub-par Seminoles team around him, adds a layer of impressiveness.
As a prospect, Akers can make defenders miss in space, run them over in the right situations, and become a weapon in the passing game. A true three down back in the making, he won’t be a full-time guy in the NFL from day one, but he could eventually get there with the right coaching and if his body holds up to professional punishment.
And even though his passing numbers are laughable when thought of as a strength, the ‘Philly Special’ only needed to work once to help the Eagles win a Super Bowl.
Versatility gives you options. Options keep defenses guessing. Akers has the ability to bring these factors to the Buccaneers’ running back room.
Again, you’ve heard this before. Pass blocking. There are some other areas Akers needs work in, but the biggest disconnect between he and the Bucs might just bee pass protection.
In Dane Brugler’s draft guide, he put it perfectly,
“...poor technique and anchor in pass protection, attempting to catch rushers...”
Catching a pass rusher in college might work from time-to-time. In the NFL, it’s a one way ticket to blooper segments on national programs, and it’s almost guaranteed to get you or the defender coming in hot on your quarterback. There’s an additional risk if you get knocked backwards to the ground, or the pass rusher stumbles out of contact with you, that he comes in low on your quarterback as well.
The 15-yard penalty isn’t going to feel so good as you watch your passer get carted off the field.
There are other concerns. Like many college players, Akers has been able to win with his own elite ability and didn’t have to worry about technique as much. He’ll need to learn how to let blockers set up, take advantage of what he sees, and see more.
Those are coach-able. So is catching a pass rusher. But some of that is will-power, and if Akers just isn’t willing to Maurice Jones-Drew a guy like Shawne Merriman, then he’ll never get to the top of his ceiling.
Why The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Need Cam Akers
Again, it’s versatility. Ronald Jones made leaps and bounds in 2019 compared to his rookie season of 2018, but he isn’t all the way there. Bottom line is, he may never get all the way there, and even if he gets closer he’s an injury away from not even being on the field.
Behind Jones is T.J. Logan and Dare Ogunbowale who have proven to be better special teams contributors than regulars on offense. Aca’Cedric Ware is another running back on roster who has no pro statistics to report on, but did rush for 1,505-yards in four season with the USC Trojans, for what it’s worth.
Tampa needs another running back in the room. Brugler has Akers projected as a 2nd-3rd Round draft pick, and I like the valuation there as well.
He could go as high as the middle part of the second-round, but to really get bang for your buck, Jason Licht and his staff should be eyeing him in the third-round, ideally.
Should It Happen?
For me, J.K. Dobbins (Ohio State), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (LSU) and D’Andre Swift (Georgia) come before Akers and then Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin) after him.
Dobbins and Swift are currently projected to be taken before the Bucs come back on the clock for day two, and I wouldn’t recommend the team spending extra capital to trade up without getting the fifth-year option along with it.
After those two, Akers should absolutely be in consideration for a second-round pick. If he makes it to the third it’s an easy yes for me.
Either way, I’d be shocked if Tampa Bay didn’t come away from day two with a running back, which makes Akers to the Bucs a real possibility.
Check out this episode of the Locked On Bucs Podcast!
How do you feel about Cam Akers for the Bucs in the 2020 NFL Draft?
This poll is closed
Draft him no matter what
Trade back candidate
I wouldn’t mind it
There are better options