Far and away, the player Detroit Lions fans want to see more of is UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers.
Ayers declared eligible for this year’s draft after his junior season.
“I felt I (completed) every goal that I wanted to do (in college),” he said. “I had a perfect opportunity to achieve one of my goals that I set out as a little kid, which was just to have a chance to play in the NFL. I have that opportunity right now and I plan on pursuing it.”
At 6-4, 255 pounds, Ayers could fit as a 3-4 rush player or a 4-3 linebacker, depending on how a team sees him.
On Sunday, Ayers said he had talked with teams about both options, but hadn’t gotten into detail.
“I feel like I can adapt to any kind of defense as far as 4-3 or 3-4 because of my versatility playing defensive end in college,” he said.
“I feel like adapting to any defense won’t be a problem.”
Adaptability is something the Lions are looking for in an outside linebacker.
While teams that run a 3-4 scheme are often looking for a specific build and skill set at the outside linebacker position, Head Coach Jim Schwartz says the No. 1 trait for his linebackers has to be versatility.
“It’s hard to hide one-trick ponies on defense,” he said. “You (may) have a guy who’s not a good pass-defender, he’s a really good run-defender, but you can’t choose whether the opponent offense is going to run or pass.”
So having players at linebacker who can do everything well is imperative.
As far as Ayers’ skill set, his strength has been in coverage.
“That’s something I believe I do well,” he said. “I think I’m a great standing-up linebacker.”
He says he’s done well rushing the passer, but he has room for improvement.
“I know I’m nowhere near reaching my peak,” said Ayers.
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