Out of all the rookie RBs, Cam Akers has the least competition to not only becoming his team’s starting RB, but a three-down back.
The Rams had every reason in the world to use Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown more to spell Todd Gurley in 2019, but Gurley just ended up playing on 80% of snaps during the second half of the season. There was nothing that Henderson or Brown brought to the table last year to justify taking Gurley off the field, despite justification to keep the load on his arthritic knee as light as possible.
While Henderson can take a step forward, Akers was taken with the Rams first pick – proving they didn’t have the sole answer in Henderson. Henderson’s big play ability seems to be best served as a complement, while Akers has proved he can be a workhorse type of back.
The Rams offensive line improved in the second half of last season after a bad start, but Akers has some experience with that; he impressed behind one of the worst lines in all of college football. Darrell Henderson had the benefit of running behind one of the best offensive lines in the country during his time at Memphis. Despite the terrible line, he still averaged 5 yards per carry throughout his career… mostly because of his impressive ability to make defenders miss. His 7.45 forced missed tackles per game in 2019 was 2nd to only Zack Moss’ elite 7.85 number.
Missed tackles and yards after contact are two metrics that correlate to the next level, and almost 80% of his total rushing yards came after contact last season.
Akers is capable in both the run and pass game, and he has great vision after the catch. He fits well in Sean McVay’s zone running scheme, as Akers ranked near the top of CFB in zone-based rushing attempts. McVay wants a versatile RB to be able to keep defenses guessing. While Todd Gurley was in a class of his own earlier in his career, his opportunity share ranks near the top of the league over the past few seasons, including 2019.
Akers 5th round price tag might be the best of all; he’s going around guys who have a no to low chance of becoming their team’s workhorses. The upside is there with Akers, with the floor of being in a 50/50 split.