It’s now been over a year since the Los Angeles Rams cut running back Todd Gurley and he joined the Atlanta Falcons. Releasing Gurley was a tough move as the Rams running back was on a Hall of Fame career track. Gurley provided the Rams with three thousand-yard rushing seasons and four double-digit touchdown seasons. His departure left a gaping hole in the backfield to say the least.
For the Rams, Gurley was a workhorse running back as he claimed 64-percent of their rushing attempts in 2018 and 59-percent in 2019. It’s no secret that Gurley was a key to the Rams’ offensive success in 2017 and 2018. When Gurley left the team, instead of handing the keys over to the next man up, the Rams turned to a committee of three running backs to carry the load.
In a surprise move, the Rams drafted Cam Akers 52nd overall with their first pick in the 2020 NFL draft. Akers would join Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson Jr. to complete their three-headed backfield. All three players had their respective roles in the backfield.
While Akers got a lot of work on early down, on third downs and short-yardage situations, it was Malcolm Brown who got the call. Henderson on the other hand also played on passing downs and provided a change of pace from Akers and Brown.
With Malcolm Brown leaving in free agency, it has left the Rams with Akers and Henderson as the team’s 1-2 punch. However, it seems like Akers will have a grasp of the backfield and it will be his to lose. In his second season, Akers could take on a workhorse type load and handle everything.
Akers struggled to find his place in the offense until week 12 as he tried to learn the Rams offense. Between injuries and simply making the transition to the NFL, it took time for Akers to get accustomed.
When Akers got the nod in Week 12 a transformation began to occur. He turned 21 carries into 72 yards and followed that performance up in Week 13. Akers put out a historic 171 yard game on 29 carries against the New England Patriots. Akers’ success continued into the Rams playoff run.
He rushed 28 times for 131 yards and a touchdown against Seattle and 18 times for 90 yards and a touchdown against Green Bay. Akers seemed to earn Sean McVay’s trust. That turned into the Rams transitioning back to their old system that brought them to a super bowl.
In 2021, expect Akers to be the Rams’ workhorse running back, handling the bulk of the carries, targets, and pass-blocking duties. In year prior, McVay utilized a workhorse back with Todd Gurley. While Gurley was more talented, Akers should be able to take on a similar role and do similar things.
At Florida State, Akers was featured in the passing game. That was an area that Akers did not feature in as a rookie with the Rams. Heading into 2021, expect that to change and for Akers to take on a much larger role.
The Rams have a strong history when it comes to Akers. Eric Dickerson started it and then it moved to players like Marshall Faulk, Steven Jackson, and even Todd Gurley. Cam Akers just looks to be in the line of great Rams running backs.