Brief history on new Pats LB Akeem Ayers

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

The Patriots have traded with Tennessee to acquire some linebacker depth after the second consecutive season in which the Patriots have to deal with the loss of Jarrod Mayo in week 6. The Patriots got depth at the bruised up position, but gave up just a 6th round pick in the process while getting back Ayers and a 7th round pick.

NFL career:

Akeem Ayers started his NFL career in 2011 after being drafted 39th overall by the Tennessee Titans. Ayers hasn’t been overwhelmingly impressive the past two seasons, only making it on the field for two of the first 7 NFL games this season on a limited basis. In those games, he’s posted three tackles. Ayers most impressive seasons in the NFL were his first two in which he played all 32 games posting 180 combined tackles, had two forced fumbles and an interception.

The Patriots did get a good look at Akeem Ayers as the Patriots opened up the season against Ayers and the Titans on Sept. 9, 2012. In that contest, Ayers posted 11 combined tackles, one being behind the line of scrimmage. The Titans are third in a weak AFC South division already back three games to the Colts. Ayers in his NFL career has never been on a playoff team.

The Titans weren’t using Ayers and the Patriots needed depth there, but if Ayers couldn’t get on the field for a 2-5 Titans team, then I don’t think fans should expect much from him here. It’s possible that Ayers hasn’t reached his full potential because he hasn’t played for a good team yet in his young career, but that’s up for debate. For what it’s worth, the Titans have ranked 14 (2013), 27 (2012) and 18 (2011) in yards allowed in his career.

In my personal opinion, he’s a serviceable NFL player at best and will make plays that make us go wow, but then the undisciplined parts of his game will frustrate coaches and fans at times.

Combine ranking:

Coming out of UCLA, Ayers was graded a 7.89 out of 10 at the NFL Combine by scouts – this grade has him in the ‘Future All Pro’ category. The 6’3 Ayers was labeled as being a sideline-to-sideline type of player that would excel in coverage, but struggle in run support. His lack of lower body strength coming out of college was the reason for concern, but his long arms and speed make him an ideal pass rusher and play maker. Ayers was said to fit best within the 4-3 scheme as a capable strong side linebacker and that is the position that needed to be filled as Dont’a Hightower moves inside to take Jarrod Mayo’s position.

He’s a coverage linebacker that can make explosive plays in the the passing game and as a pass rusher. He delivers hard hits and can make up for something that I believe Jamie Collins lacks and that’s playing with an edge. Since the Patriots moved on from Brandon Spikes, no one in the LB core strikes fear and hopefully that’s something Ayers can do if he proves he deserves to be on the field.

The college years: 

Ayers played for the unranked UCLA from 2008 to 2010. Throughout his three seasons there, he made 183 tackles, 29 of them for losses. He was best known for his EagleBank Bowl-winning interception against Temple in 2009, which earned him MVP for that game. It was no fluke however as he returned interceptions to the house on 3 different occasions in 2009 and had 6 interceptions overall in his college years.

Ayers got demolished against Oregon. The highlights show poor ability to get off blocks, poor angles and lack of gap control at the college level. He also went up against Shane Vereen at the college level and this video shows more of both sides of the story – the good and the bad highlights from a single game against Cal.

In the last video worth watching, this is just a full season worth of highlights for Akeem Ayers at UCLA. Here, you’ll see an ability to make game-changing plays within a single game and getting the play-makers on defense is something Belichick has focused on lately, especially since this seasons upcoming opponents are the likes of Denver, San Diego, Indianapolis, Detroit and Green Bay.

Enjoy:

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