Cam Akers 2021 development will be pivotal to LA Rams

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

While preparing for the 2021 season, this LA Rams team has a lot to be optimistic about. We have a highly respected head coach, a significant upgrade at quarterback, an extremely talented receiving corps, and two of the best defensive players in the league. However, someone who has flown somewhat under the radar is our promising second-year young running back, Cam Akers.

The LA Rams drafted Akers with the 52nd pick from the 2020 NFL Draft out of Florida State. Because of where he was selected, his rookie contract only pays 1.4 million this year, which is an incredibly team-friendly number for a starting NFL running back.

The payroll is still reeling from dead cap space left from former running back Todd Gurley, wide receiver Brandin Cooks, and quarterback Jared Goff deals still affecting our books. As a result, the Rams have the second-highest amount of dead money in the league. Thankfully, the team hasn’t felt the cap ramifications of this dead money too harshly in part because they have Akers at such a low cost.

Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Rams /

Los Angeles Rams

The committee rushing attack employed by Sean McVay last year eventually featured Akers alongside Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown. Although the individual statistics of these backs aren’t eye-catching, it’s mainly due to them splitting carries. If we look at the last six games of the season, Akers stepped into a heavier workload, and in the playoffs played especially well by averaging over 100 yards per game with touchdowns in both matchups.

His playoff performance could signal Akers is poised for a breakout year. It’s rare for a rookie to elevate his play in the postseason, but he did just that, proving he has the talent and gumption to become a top-tier running back in 2021. ESPN seems to agree with me.

The burden of this year’s success hinges mostly on quarterback Matthew Stafford, but Akers could be a significant X-factor this season. Although the offense will be centered around Stafford’s passing ability, if the running game is effective, play-action (Sean McVay’s favorite) is more effective against opposing defenses as they must respect the Rams’ ability to run the ball.

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I could continue about an effective run game remaining very important, so here’s to Akers building off an exciting rookie season. I can’t wait to see what he can do in 2021 and for McVay to once again establish a potent offense thanks in part to a healthy run game.