Back in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Rams used their first selection of the festivities (2nd round, 52nd overall) on a running back out of Florida State by the name of Cam Akers. Akers, who was a 5-star recruit and one of the most sought after prospects coming out of high school, has a very solid career in college despite having one of the worst offensive line units in all of the FBS division.
Akers’ rookie season started off on the slower side, as the RB didn’t really get going until the back half of the season. However, once Akers did catch his stride around the week 13 mark, it looked as if the Rams hit the jackpot with their selection. That season, the offense was very up and down, struggling to find their true identity. Despite the struggles, the squad made the postseason, and in those two postseason games Cam Akers was the focal point of the offensive attack.
In Akers’ first two career postseason appearances, he rushed for 221 total yards and had 2 rushing touchdowns on top of those, averaging 23 carries in those two games. Following the season-ending loss to the Packers, the trajectory of Akers’ career looked as if he was headed straight towards becoming one of the top backs in the entire NFL.
Then, disaster struck, as Akers tore his achilles in the off-season, seemingly ending any chances of seeing him play in the 2021-2022 season. However, despite the horrible injury, Akers battled his way back, allowing himself to return and contribute to the teams Super Bowl winning run. It was clear Akers did not have the same burst as we saw in his rookie year, but the overall resolve Akers showed to battle his way back said a lot about the mental make-up of the guy.
Fast-forward to last season, Akers had a full off-season/training camp of health, and fans were excited to see him back at full strength heading into the year. Folks assumed, well at least I assumed, that Cam Akers would be the bell-cow RB that he has shown he’s capable of being, playing a majority of the snaps in a game and wearing down defenses. Well, once the year kicked off, that was far from the case.
Through the first nine appearances in the Rams first 11 games for Akers in the 2022 season (was inactive for two games), he averaged just 31.7% of the offensive snaps at RB, shockingly low for a guy who many thought would be the starter. There was a rift in the locker room between Akers and head coach Sean McVay, which eventually led to Akers requesting a trade midseason. It seemed as though there was nowhere to go and, with the team struggling mightily, it seemed Akers’ time in L.A. was coming to a sour end.
Then, once the team reportedly turned down multiple offers (which you can believe if you want to), a switch seemed to flip for the running game and Akers alike. Through the team’s final six games of the season, we got a glimpse of the star that Akers can be once again, as he rushed for 512 yards, 6 TDs, 4.9 YPC, with 11 receptions for 99 yards to go on top of the gaudy rushing numbers. In those games, Cam averaged about 74% of the offensive snaps at RB, a complete flip from what we saw to begin the year. Although the season was lost, Akers was found, ending the season on perhaps the highest note possible.
Now, as we head into the 2023-2024 season, Akers is slated to be the uncontested RB1 to start the year off. I anticipate Akers to get 70-75% of the snaps at RB from the get go, something we have not seen in the entirety of his career thus far. The Rams also brought in a mauling guard in Steve Avila out of TCU, which should bode extremely well for the zone running scheme the team deploys. With the overall health/depth of the o-line improving, the running game as a whole could return to the dominance that we saw early in the McVay-era.
Given all the things that Cam Akers has been through, he is still here and ready to ball. Through the injuries and the trade requests, Akers will be the team’s RB1 this season, and he is set up to have a career season assuming he stays healthy throughout the year.