2020 NFL Draft Scouting Prospect Profile: Cam Akers, Florida State
The Cam Akers supporters are loud and I will have to admit, pretty persuasive. While Jonathan Taylor, D’Andre Swift, and J.K Dobbins top pretty much everyone in the NFL Draft worlds’ running back rankings, Akers is a strong number four and you can make a real case that he belongs in the same tier as those running backs for dynasty fantasy football purposes. Akers was a stonecold workhorse at Florida State and more so than any other running back in this class, suffered from how poorly the teammates around him played. Let us take a look and see why the market might be too low on Akers.
Cam Akers Scouting Prospect Profile
Akers came to Florida State as one of the most highly recruited prospects of the last five. Per Seminoles.com Akers was “One of the most sought-after players in the nation and the country’s top running back recruit in the 2017 class. The five-star Akers ranked as the No. 2 player nationally and the No. 1 running back as part of 247Sports Composite.” Generally, five-star running backs have a high correlation to playing early on in their college careers and Akers was no different. Akers’ very first college game was against Alabama (tough gig) and he had only 10 carries and one reception but that was enough to record the most touches of any Florida State player. He racked up over 1,000 rushing yards and added 16 receptions and eight touchdowns as a true freshman for an FSU team that absolutely stunk (a common trend). Akers actually set the FSU true freshmen rushing record that season, breaking the previous record of Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook.
Cam Akers and Florida State would probably like to forget the year of 2018. The Noles won only five games and Akers split some of his backfield work with Jacques Patrick which left him with only 161 carries (the lowest total of his three year career), though he did catch 23 passes and scored two receiving touchdowns. If we can forgive poor final collegiate seasons from players like Jalen Reagor at wide receiver, I think looking at a guy like Akers who bounced back in a major way can be forgiven a poor showing at the age of 19.
When Akers final season started at Florida State, he was actually only 19! Breakout age matters even for running backs, particularly because there is so much attrition at the position. It is a little easier for a team to select Akers knowing that he will just be barely 21 when he suits up for his first game as an NFL player. That final season was quite impressive. He ran for 1,144 yards in only 11 games (missing some time with injury) and had over 100 yards against Florida, Louisville, and Boise State though like the entire FSU roster, had a disappointing outing against Clemson. 18 touchdowns on a team where no one else scored more than nine is pretty impressive for a running back, as is his 30 receptions which was good for third on the team.
The production profile is pretty straight forward: he balled out in a power five conference, caught passes every year and improved as a pass-catcher in every season and was a lead running back for 75% of his college career. That is the profile of a running back who projects well at the next level, full stop.
Projecting Cam Akers Into The 2020 NFL Draft
As far as running back prospects go, you will not really find much controversy surrounding Akers. I have yet to see a dissenting voice saying that he is more impressive than Taylor, Dobbins or Swift and it is conventional to assert that his performance in a tough situation was more impressive than what Clyde Edwards-Helaire did in the most favorable circumstances possible. Akers handled 74% of Florida State’s total carries in his final season and accumulated 38% of Florida State’s total touches while he was enrolled at the school.
If we assume that he is drafted in the top-100 picks (a safe assumption given that he probably has more equity to be selected into the top 75 given the usual distribution of running back selection) his top comps from the Rotoviz Box Score Scout are all NFL running backs. Marlon Mack, Wayne Gallman, David Montgomery, Kenneth Dixon, and Shane Vereen are the top sim scores for Akers with a custom draft input of 100. That list indicates to me what I think is a really accurate range of outcomes. True workhorse (Montgomery), early-down grinder with a passing-down complement (Mack) or a team chooses to go the OTHER way with him and asks him to be a third-down back in which case Breen and Mike Davis are legit comps.
The Draft Network comps Cam Akers to Mark Ingram whereas Matt Waldman thinks he has potential even beyond that because of how much he was used in the passing game at FSU. My amateur eye agrees more with Waldman than with the idea that Akers is a static, early down runner. While he held up incredibly well to a heavy workload at FSU, he has some “jolt” to his game and there is no reason to expect that he will be a plodder at the professional level.
Holistically, I think there is a good chance Akers ends up being one of the best bargains in dynasty rookie drafts. There just isn’t much to separate him from someone like Jonathan Taylor in hit rate but you might end up being able to draft Akers with 10th pick of the first round and that is a rather large advantage. While I wouldn’t be actively trying to trade up for Akers, he is someone I would be glad to see fall to me in any format.