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Rams’ evaluation past few years pays off on Akers

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The LA Rams did their homework on Cam Akers. Years’ worth of film review and scouting.

Akers was the Rams’ second-round draft pick after accumulating 2,875 rushing yards in three seasons at Florida State.

“Cam was a guy on our radar,” said Brian Xanders, a senior personnel executive with the Rams who played at FSU in the early 1990s. “We’ve watched him for two years. We really do a lot of sophomore and junior tape. His football character was strong, he’s a hard worker, he’s a blue collar guy, always around the facility.

“We kept hearing the word super competitive. He plays like a fighter. He plays through the injury. With everybody we talked to, academic people, everybody, just said he was a positive kid.”

The positives with Akers outweighed the on-field performance of the Seminoles. As it was clear to fans and media that FSU’s offensive line struggles limited the offense, it was also evident how much Akers fought for yards.

With a physical running style, Akers turned small holes into big gains. He showed how he could break arm tackles but also pushed forward and had one of the higher yards-after carry totals in college football in 2019.

“He made people miss better than anybody,” Xanders said during an Osceola Happy Hour conversation. “Our analytics group said that he was the best runner in the NCAA last year against an eight-man box. When they loaded down with the safety, he was the best one. The other thing he had, on his 4.9 yards per attempt he gained 3.7 yards after contact. He created a lot on his own.”

NFL teams don’t always put as much value on running backs in the draft. Akers was the fourth tailback off the board, following first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Chiefs at No. 32 overall) and then second-round picks D’Andre Swift (Lions at 35) and Jonathan Taylor (41, Colts) before the Rams took Akers at No. 52 overall.

“A lot of our scouts were saying he may be the best running back out of this entire draft class, looking back three or four years from now,” Xanders said.

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