In the 2011 NFL Draft, Akeem Ayers is one of the top traditional linebacker prospects.
With the ascent of both the 3-4 defense and the spread offense, college programs emphasis rushing the passer more and more every year.
In 2011, that translates into a wealth of elite rush OLB prospects—Von Miller, Robert Quinn, Aldon Smith and Justin Houston, among others.
Ayers has drawn interest from plenty of 3-4 teams as well, but his greatest value may be to teams like the Lions needy for a standup linebacker who cannot only rush the passer but also excel in coverage and pursuit as well.
As a 4-3 linebacker, Ayers isn't the elite prospect nor elite athlete that recent draft picks like Aaron Curry or Brian Cushing. He was extremely productive at the college level and tested well in position-specific drills at both the combine and at his pro day.
On April 4, Ayers tweeted that he is on his way to Detroit and then re-tweeted a fan who said he would love to see Ayers in "that Honolulu Blue."
That fan isn't the only onlooker who thinks Ayers would look good in a Detroit Lions uniform; following the season, Ayers was a popular pick in many mocks.
Since the combine, his stock has dropped considerably.
So fans will have to wait until draft day to find out whether the Lions actually predict Ayers to be draftable at No. 13 or if they are simply doing due diligence with the best player at their position of greatest need.
One thing is for sure, if the Lions want to win more than six games in 2011, they will need to find both upgrades and depth in a linebacking corps that currently boasts Ashlee Palmer and Bobby Carpenter as two of its starters.
Michael Schottey is an on-call editor for the Bleacher Report College Writing Internship, as well as an NFL Featured Columnist and an NFL Labor/Draft Expert. A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, he has professionally covered the Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions, as well as NFL events like the Scouting Combine and the Senior Bowl. Follow him on Twitter.