6'4, 256 pounds | Outside linebacker | UCLA
Coverage: Ayers can man up tight ends underneath and has good instincts to break on the ball. He clearly has enough agility to flip his hips and running with backs and tight ends. Reads quarterbacks well in zone coverage.
Instincts: UCLA lined Ayers up in several different spots. He's played on the strong side and weak side. He's played with a hand in the ground but is mainly used out of a two-point stance. He was mostly used near the line of scrimmage, but was asked at times to drop back in coverage. Reads the play action nicely and knows when to stay at home.
Pass rush: Ayers is still developing as a pass rusher because UCLA didn't call a lot of blitzes for their linebackers. Because of that, he's raw and doesn't have consistent pass rush technique. At times he'll get low around the edge, but needs to do it on a more-frequent basis. Right now, Ayers is a speed rusher with developmental potential.
Quickness: Displays good quickness off the snap and can explode past offensive linemen. Ayers' first step shows he could develop into a pass rusher in the future.
Run defense: Ayers is good against the run when he's lined up at the line of scrimmage and can speed past blockers. When he can, Ayers is good containing the outside rush. But when he has to handle blockers, Ayers has trouble maintaining the edge and will get walled off.
Strength: Ayers has a lot of bulk on his frame, but he needs to get stronger. When playing off the line of scrimmage, he doesn't have enough strength to attack and disengage from linemen. Looks like he can carry at least 10 more pounds of bulk.
Tackling: Is a solid fundamental tackler who wraps up and drives through the ball carrier. Isn't necessarily a devastating hitter. Will sometimes let his technique slip and get too high tackling.
Final word: Most simply look at Ayers' size – 6-foot-4, 256 pounds – and automatically assume he's a perfect fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker. However, he hasn't quite developed as the pass rusher many expected.
That is partly to do with the UCLA defensive scheme. It often required Ayers to drop back in coverage instead of always working upfield. In the long run, that should make him a better all-around player. He's a true three-down linebacker, with size too. But a team looking for pass rush help may have to wait a year or two as Ayers comes along.
Ayers projects as a strong-side linebacker in a 4-3 scheme or an inside linebacker in a 3-4. His play is reminiscent of former Florida State linebacker Lawrence Timmons.
In 12 starts in 2010, Ayers had 68 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, four sacks and two interceptions. He has had 10 sacks over the last two seasons. Was a team captain as a junior.