UCLA outside linebacker Akeem Ayers can point to his tape as proof that he's a good athlete and an even better football player.
Considering that Ayers racked up 123 tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, six interceptions (two returned for TDs), and four forced fumbles (one returned for a TD) over his two full starting seasons with the Bruins, he's got a point.
Despite the flashy big plays that scream otherwise, Ayers was proven to be a remarkably pedestrian athlete at the 2011 Combine.
The 6-2 (1/2), 254 pounder was electronically timed at 4.88 in the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis. Only two outside linebackers tested at the Combine were slower -- Boston College's Mark Herzlich (5.02) and Michigan's Jonas Mouton (4.94). Even worse, Ayers was the slowest of all linebackers tested this year in the 3-cone drill, a test designed to identify flexibility, change of direction and explosiveness -- three elements typically critical to strong linebacker play. Ayers was timed at 7.49 seconds. Herzlich, by comparison, was timed at 7.33 seconds.
According to a source with knowledge of Ayers' workouts prior to the Combine and any improvements he's made since, NFL scouts and the media could be in for a disappointment if they think the First-Team All Pac-10 (and Third Team All-American) performer is going to test significantly better during his Pro Day workout for scouts Tuesday, March 29.
According to the source, "[Ayers] is what he is -- a damn good football player. But, I can tell you right now, when he started working out, he wasn't very fast. He's improved and I expect him to be better at the Pro Day than he was at the Combine, but he's not going to blow anyone away with his workout."
Ayers is expected to have a lot of NFL talent-evaluators on hand to see just how much his numbers can improve. Ayers and Rahim Moore, despite each disappointing in their Combine workouts, remain among NFLDraftScout.com's top 64 prospects and are certain to spark lots of interest. Teams will also be traveling to the West Coast this week in preparation for USC and Washington's Pro Days on Wednesday.