2011 NFL Draft, 50 in 50: Akeem Ayers - LB - UCLA (27 of 50)

In a 3-4 defense, all of the linebackers are of equal importance. Although they all have different assignments, with one weak spot out of the four players out of any of them, a defense will often be left exposed.

This years draft is fully stocked in both potential 3-4 outside linebackers, as well as middle linebackers. Ninjames posted a very well written piece earlier in the day covering the subject in depth on some of the possible sleepers at the outside linebacker position.

There is little doubt in most fans eyes that the 49ers will be drafting a linebacker or two to come in and help. The speculation of the rounds and players that would fit Harbaugh's mold have ranged from first round candidates all the way to the later portion of the mid-rounds.

Whatever your personal feelings are, there hasn't been too much talk about the inside linebacker position up to this point. Some folks are not confident it seems in last years rookie Navorro Bowman... Scott McKillop has not become the Bill Romanowski that people though the would be and on top of that, others feel that Takeo Spikes doesn't have much left in the tank. The consensus may agree that middle linebacker is not a high priority but assuming both are true of Bowman and Spikes, when, where, and who do the 49ers select for the inside position?

With that, let's look at a very versatile linebacker from UCLA in Akeem Ayers.

This video demonstrates the unlimited potential and versatility that Ayers brings to the table. Although he may not be the most instinctual player on earth, he knows the game of football and understands his X's and O's very well. Rarely does he miss an assignment but if he does, he has good recovery speed and often times makes a play anyway.

 

Here are his career stats:

tats Overview Tackles Misc Interceptions
YEAR TOT SOLO AST SACK STF STFY FF BK INT YDS AVG LNG TD PD
2008 39 28 11 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0
2008 39 28 11 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0
2009 69 48 21 3 0 0 2 0 4 11 2.8 6 2 0
2010 68 45 23 4 0 0 0 0 2 90 45.0 77 0 0
2010 Regular Season Game Log Tackles Misc Interceptions
DATE OPP RESULT   TOT SOLO AST SACK STF STFY FF BK INT YDS AVG LNG TD PD
9/4 @Kansas State L 31-22 11 6 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 1
9/11 Stanford L 35-0 7 4 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 1
9/18 Houston W 31-13 5 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 77 77.0 77 0 0
9/25 @Texas W 34-12 6 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 13 13.0 13 0 0
10/2 Washington State W 42-28 4 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 1
10/9 @California L 35-7 3 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 1
10/21 @Oregon L 60-13 5 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0
10/30 Arizona L 29-21 4 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0
11/6 Oregon State W 17-14 6 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0
11/18 @Washington L 24-7 8 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0
11/26 @Arizona State L 55-34 6 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0
12/4 USC L 28-14 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0

Summary: I think that Ayers will get off to a slow start once he is in the NFL. After he is there for a few years he will peak. I do not see a Pro Bowl caliber player inside Ayers but I believe that he can be a very solid option inside for a team for a lot of years. Ayers is one of the more boom or bust players of the draft. A lot of his success or failure will be contingent on what franchise decides to select him.

PREDICTION: Late 1st Round - 2nd Round.

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