The Los Angeles Rams made headlines last offseason when they opted to part ways with star running back Todd Gurley. Although his departure left a rather notable void in the backfield, general manager Les Snead was optimistic that Cam Akers was capable of filling the void.
The Rams used their first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to take Akers in the second round. The decision to take a running back so early on drew some questions since they already had a solid 1-2 punch brewing in Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown.
While Akers certainly endured his fair share of growing pains early on, he finally managed to fit the billing as a bona fide workhorse for years to come. His emergence down the stretch helped to vindicate the selection by filling the vacancy in the run game.
Snead recalls adding a talented runner to replace Gurley had been a major point of emphasis for the Rams last draft, via the team’s official Twitter:
“Looking back at the 2020 draft class, we really wanted to improve our running game,” Snead said. “We went into the draft thinking running back pretty early.”
Snead added that while nothing was initially set in stone for the pick, Akers has done a tremendous job of justifying it:
“Didn’t necessarily have to be with the first pick, but we had our board set at running backs where we’d take one and Cam Akers was a running back that we often felt internally within the Rams, objectively might’ve been one of the better running backs in the draft, if not the best,” Snead said. “Looking back at how he evolved, got over some of the injuries early, got over the rookie jitters, figured out things, heading into the ’21 season, want to give him the ball more because he’s fun to watch.”
There is certainly plenty of truth to Snead’s comments considering the profound impact Akers had on the running game last season. It appears as though he is poised for an even bigger role on offense alongside quarterback Matthew Stafford in 2021.
Akers was not the only rookie from the 2020 class to make an immediate splash last year. Wide receiver Van Jefferson is also looking to make a big leap going into his second season while defensive backs Terrell Burgess and Jordan Fuller will be tasked with helping to alleviate some of the turnover the Rams experienced on the defensive side of the ball this offseason.