Did you know that LA Rams RB Cam Akers was PFF's Top 10 in this category?
By Bret Stuter
Where do you fall in the spectrum of LA Rams fandom: Do you want RB Cam Akers back in 2023 or would you rather that the team and rusher part ways here and now? Before you toss vitriol into the comments section, keep in mind that the LA Rams and the player worked hard to resolve whatever disputes and disagreements arose in 2022, and the final three games of Akers rushing for 100+ yards behind a makeshift offensive front proved that both the team and the player were back on the same page.
But I'm not here to sell you on the rushing ability of Cam Akers, the feature running back who is entering his fourth and final season on his rookie contract. Rather, I'm here to tout his pass blocking ability, and the fact that he is among the Top 10 running backs in the NFL in terms off allowing defensive pressure to get to his quarterback.
It's a skillset that can make or break an offensive drive at a critical moment in a football game. And we know for certain that blocking is an attribute that LA Rams Head Coach Sean McVay insists upon from all of his offensive players.
Akers is among NFL's Top 10 RBs at pass blocking
So why haven't we talked about it before? Well, the truth is, stats and data behind paywalls are not something I pull out and give away free of charge. But the latest Pro Football Focus rankings of NFL running backs were used recently to make a point about former Dallas Cowboys FA running back Ezekiel Elliott. So it's now fair game:
From the extracted chart in the Tweet above, you can see that Cam Akers is tied for 10th overall in the NFL. But by reading across the columns, you see that he allowed no quarterback sacks and no quarterback hits when he was in the game. In fact, he only allowed two quarterback hurries.
While you may or may not give much crediblity to a PFF data table of this nature, in its raw form it does support the argument that Cam Akers does more for the Rams offense than grab and go with the football. In fact, with his ability to help protect the quarterback, he becomes a versatile and deceptive offensive weapon as defenses have no clue whether he is running with the football, exiting to become a receiver on a passing play, or staying back in the backfield to aid in quarterback protection.
You may or may not have noticed Akers's ability to block for his quarterback. But I can assure you that Sean McVay and the entire coaching staff are acutely aware of his proficiency. And that's just one of many reasons why I believe that the starting RB position for the 2023 NFL season is Cam Akers' to lose.