Future Falcons: The Akeem Ayers file

UCLA's Akeem Ayers played defensive end and linebacker for the Bruins. (Associated Press)

UCLA's Akeem Ayers played defensive end and linebacker for the Bruins. (Associated Press)

BIRDLAND – With the 27th pick in the NFL draft, the Falcons could select UCLA defensive end/linebacker Akeem Ayers.

Here’s a quick look at Ayers:

Hometown: Los Angeles

High school: Verbum Dei

Height: 6-4.

Weight: 255

Age: 21 (July 10, 1989)

UCLA: He decided to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft. He earned second-team All-American honors from the Walter Camp Foundation in 2010. He was slowed by shoulder and toe injuries last season, but still managed 10 tackles for loss and four sacks while playing defensive end and linebacker. As a sophomore, he had six sacks and four interceptions. He scored three touchdowns that season — two on interceptions and one on a fumble return.

HIGH SCHOOL: Letter three years and played defensive end, linebacker and wide receiver. He was a four-star recruit by scout.com and rivals.com. He made 94 tackles as a senior, including 22 in one game. At wide receiver, he caught 21 passes for 413 yards and nine touchdowns. He also returned 20 kicks for 626 yards.

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT AYERS: “Akeem Ayers, I’ve got him, I believe, as my No. 2 outside linebacker prospect. He’s played both with his hand in the dirt and up. He played linebacker at UCLA. I think he’s got first-round ability because of his natural ability to get to the quarterback. Most of the 3-4 teams are very interested in him, although I think he can play in a 4-3 scheme. So if you’re scheme diverse, that’s a good thing.” – NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock.

“Where some linebackers excel against the run, some in coverage, and others as pass rushers, Ayers makes plays in all three areas. He does a very good job reading and reacting against the run and he shows excellent anticipation in coverage. While he’s not a feared pass rusher, Ayers nonetheless has the ability to put his hand on the ground as a down defensive end and generate heat on the quarterback.” –ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, in Mel Kiper Jr’s 2011 Draft Report

“Over hyped rush linebacker prospect whose splash plays mask concerning weaknesses, including a tendency to coast on athletic ability, which is not elite. Disappointed scouts with an average (NFL scouting) combine workout, is not a natural pass rusher and could be overdrafted based on perceived upside.  The sum is not as great as the parts.”  — Nolan Nawrocki, Pro Football Weekly Draft 2011 Preview

FALCONS RATIONALE: What makes Ayers intriguing to the Falcons is his ability to rush the passer and drop in coverage. The Falcons played nickel more than 50 percent of the time and needed linebackers in coverage, or hybrid defensive ends who could drop or rush. There were a couple of times last season where John Abraham or Kroy Biermann were asked to drop into coverage and that usually didn’t work out too well. The Falcons first gear up to stop New Orleans and then a rising Tampa Bay offense. They know they need more playmakers on defense and Ayers could in and help right away.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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50 comments Add your comment

Matt

April 26th, 2011
10:41 am

Matt

April 26th, 2011
10:42 am

Now back to the article…Akeem Ayers? Really?

the silverman

April 26th, 2011
10:46 am

I have noticed you have liked Ayers D. Orlando and said that you think that Justin Houston is more of 3-4 OLB but do you really think if he is on the board with all the other DEs (clayborn, heyward, reed, and kerrigan) we have been considering gone wont take him?

the silverman

April 26th, 2011
10:47 am

*we wont take him

Matt

April 26th, 2011
10:50 am

Kerrigan, Heyward, Clayborn, Austin, Quinn, T. Smith, or Brandon Harris are better choices here (if available). I’d rather have Jason Collins from the Atlanta Hawks playing DE instead of Ayers.

Matt

April 26th, 2011
10:52 am

Btw, that was my first *first*! I should get a prize from Mr. Ledbetter. Maybe an autographed autobiography of Scott Baio? Maybe a casette player with a signed copy of Toto’s Greatest Hits.

BEVO

April 26th, 2011
10:55 am

Weak choice. A second team Pac 10 dude? Go get your Pouncey on D-Led

Does it have Talons?

April 26th, 2011
10:58 am

I liked what I saw of Ayers on film. If the Falcons can’t get a pure pass rushing DE at 27, I’d much rather see them take Ayers (or an OT) than reach for a 2nd tier WR that high. Ayers is a three down LB. They could play him at OLB in base defense and move him up as a situational pass rusher in nickel coverage, leaving Curtis Lofton and Sean Weatherspoon as the nickel LB’s. Or if they think he’s got pass rush ability, why not make him a full time DE? He’s got the same type of frame as John Abraham did coming out of South Carolina as an OLB. Why not draft someone with the same profile as his future replacement?

It Takes "Talon"t

April 26th, 2011
11:15 am

I hate New Orleans

Geaux Falcons

April 26th, 2011
11:16 am

Can Katrina make a repeat apperance and destroy NO?

Jungle Fever

April 26th, 2011
11:16 am

I want Ledbetter’s baby

Mel Gibson

April 26th, 2011
11:17 am

That bowtie looks gay

Daniel Carver

April 26th, 2011
11:17 am

Ben Dover

April 26th, 2011
11:20 am

Gary Dell'Abate

April 26th, 2011
11:21 am

Stern rules, baba booey

Craven Moorehead

April 26th, 2011
11:23 am

I like dark meat

Olive Blakock

April 26th, 2011
11:24 am

mmm…it’s so meaty

Jack Maehoff

April 26th, 2011
11:30 am

Ha, this monkey never reads his articles.

Dan

April 26th, 2011
11:32 am

I like LB Ayers good pick for the first rd!!! Our LB would then be set !!!
2nd pick Ras-I Dowling A big Tall Corner and then fill DE and WR in Free Agency!!!

Quincy Carter

April 26th, 2011
11:37 am

I think we should get Justin Houston…..We sure would have a great time together!

Shaboy's boy

April 26th, 2011
11:43 am

Does anyone know what round Nesbit will go in the CFL draft?

Ed

April 26th, 2011
11:46 am

Akeem Ayers would be a steal in the 2nd round but with the 27th pick in the draft the Falcons need a real first round DE, I hope Dimitroff goes with either Cameron Heyward from Ohio State or Justin Houston from Georgia.

Matt

April 26th, 2011
11:48 am

Nesbitt will go in the 0th round. That’s right, the 0th round.

Trailboss

April 26th, 2011
11:54 am

We’re still in the box because we have great player’s and coache’s but if the only place you it look good is on paper .When you get on the feild you play the wrong defense we throw six yards passes when we need ten for a first down. So you can have a pick in every round in the first and fill all of our position…Butttttttt our lost to Green Bay was bad decision’s in other word the coaches gave it away.

BirdDog

April 26th, 2011
11:54 am

They need a natural pass rusher. Sounds like the “experts” aren’t too sold on his ability to rush the QB.

Matt

April 26th, 2011
12:06 pm

Trailboss, your grammar needs work. Go back to school.

The Real Falcon

April 26th, 2011
12:27 pm

Over hyped rush linebacker prospect whose splash plays mask concerning weaknesses, including a tendency to coast on athletic ability, which is not elite
LIKE I SAID EARLIER!

Mr. Phil

April 26th, 2011
12:44 pm

DOL is this becoming an annual thing? Are we gonna have to start calling this Ledbetter’s Pouncey award for the player DOL most wanted but the Falcons did not draft?

Mr. Phil

April 26th, 2011
12:46 pm

@Trailboss

Take long slow breaths before you type. It works for me.

Mr. Phil

April 26th, 2011
12:49 pm

This is what ESPn says about the guy:

“He generally wins the battle for initial contact but doesn’t win enough phone booth wars versus bigger blockers.”

You want a smallish weak DE on our line. We already got a couple of those. If not for Abraham’s unexplainable strength, he WOULD be one of those.

Daniel

April 26th, 2011
12:59 pm

He is good when he plays in coverage or again the rush. His problems are when the blocker can hold him back, especially when rushing the passer. A part of this is due to him needing more strength, a part also has to do with him being raw in that area. I’ve heard he can easily add 10 pounds but he is already 6′4 255 which is big for a OLB. His speed isn’t anything special so you’re taking the chance of him being pretty slow. We need an OLB but it’s not #1 on the list and we can definitely get someone better and more needed at 27.

Joe TessFish House

April 26th, 2011
2:06 pm

What will they do about Perrier Jerry?

Todd

April 26th, 2011
2:37 pm

I’d go ahead and take Mallett at 27, be done with it. Never can have too many QB’s, just ask gruden.

cg

April 26th, 2011
2:40 pm

1. Matt, you’re an idiot.
2. Ayers is fast and great off the ball. Standing or with his hand in the dirt. Watch his highlites. This is what we’re missing. YES!!!

Todd

April 26th, 2011
2:46 pm

The best bet would be to trade down, try to accumulate multiple 2nd rounders. I keep hearing the Falcons plan on staying at 27, I would put it up for bidding. Ayers, Houston, Clayborn, all have major bust potential, too high to take a WR.

Matt

April 26th, 2011
2:55 pm

@cg

Watch his highlites? I didn’t know he got colored streaks in his hair? That’s pretty amazing. Maybe we can call him Dennis Rodman.

phil t

April 26th, 2011
3:55 pm

DUMB DUMB DUMB A BUST

enz

April 26th, 2011
3:57 pm

I talked to Dimitroff today. He said they’re trading down.

marcus

April 26th, 2011
4:56 pm

trade for steve smith third round pick get CD williams in first round second mason forest or the mathews brother

Todd

April 26th, 2011
5:07 pm

You sound like a damn genius Marcus, are you on the Birds payroll??? Yea, let’s add another aging receiver to the group, nice.

Todd

April 26th, 2011
5:12 pm

LD Williams of Arkansas has a 3rd-4th rd. grade by most people, it might be a reach, but I see where your coming from. I don’t even know if the other players mentioned even exsist.

FaceTheNation

April 26th, 2011
5:59 pm

Ayers is a good prospect, however, if Houston, Heyward or Castonzo avail at #27 we should take one of them.

FaceTheNation

April 26th, 2011
6:03 pm

DOL, let’s talk about round 2. What player(s) make the short list for the Falcons?

FaceTheNation

April 26th, 2011
6:10 pm

Todd, D. J. Williams of Arkansas won the Mackey award as the best TE in 2010. He doesn’t possess the ideal height at 6ft 2, but he has great hands and above average speed and blocking ability. He would be a great pick at #59 for the Birds.

GHunt

April 26th, 2011
6:20 pm

FaceTheNation, I agree with your assessment of DJ williams. He would be a great successor to TonyG. We can also upgrade with anyone of your choices at 27. You are right on it man!

Todd

April 26th, 2011
6:22 pm

DJ, my bad. If they are going to take a DE in the first, they have to go skill position in the 2nd. Titus Young, Jernigan come to mind. Like i said before, I would trade out of the first for sure. These people are a hell of a lot smarter than myself at falcons headquarters, if Mark Ingram dropped to 27, it has to be a consideration also.

Todd

April 26th, 2011
6:24 pm

I like stocker every bit as much as Williams, not as fast, but 6′7. Probably could get him in the 3rd.

SAINTS LSU

April 26th, 2011
11:12 pm

& we Hate Atlanta Also

Falconian

April 27th, 2011
5:53 pm

Sam Baker, Peria Jerry, and Sean Weatherspoon. How about trade Thomas Dimitroff to another team for an extra 4th round pick?

LawdHamercy

April 28th, 2011
1:23 am

Move down for Julioooooooooooooooo