Pros: Has a quick first step and shows potential as an edge pass rusher. Has nice motor. Breaks down and can make the tackle in space. Has a nice swim move. Has experience playing with his hand off the ground.
Cons: Not really going to impact as linebacker because he is not ﬂuid or natural in moving in the open field. Not as good a tackler as a player his size should be. Doesn't give you a lot as a run stopper.
Overview: A one-year starter that shined at the Senior Bowl, but might be a bit overrated by some because of it. Had 15.5 tackles for loss this past year, but only 3 sacks. As a junior and a backup, he had 12 tackles for loss and 4 sacks.
NFL Forecast: I think Ayers will be a solid situational pass rusher at the next level, but I don't think he'll be an effective starter. I'll use the lack of a significant increase in production from his junior year to senior year as evidence of this, although I'm not basing that opinion off it, just that I think it supports that opinion. And while I saw ﬂashes of pass-rushing ability from Ayers, I never saw him as a consistent enough force to believe he'll be anything more than a below average starter at the next level. A player I'd compare him to is Cincinnati's Robert Geathers. A decent starter, but has never really had the production to match his potential. Like Geathers, I think Ayers will be ideal as a situational guy that only plays 20 snaps per game, but once you ask him to give you more, his production will peak and begin to slide.
ATL Forecast: He can certainly help the Falcons pass rush as a situational pass rusher. He'd be capable playing opposite Abraham on third downs, but outside that role his impact won't be significant for the Falcons. He could be an OK starter for the Falcons, but probably wouldn't be any better an option than Chauncey Davis. Basically, he's the type of guy that you'd like splitting time with Davis, with Davis getting most of the reps on running downs, and Ayers getting the work on passing downs. But he's not consistent enough coming off the edge or vs. the run that you'd want to give him too many responsibilities as a full-time player.
Value: Because he's ideally a backup that has only limited potential as a starter, Ayers is only a middle round pick. Definitely worth a look in the fourth round, and may not be too bad of a reach in the third, but if you take him on Day 1, you're probably setting yourself up for disappointment.
Scouting Reports of defensive ends in the 2009 NFL Draft.
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