The New Orleans Saints traded up to acquire Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara with the 67th pick of the 2017 NFL draft. The Saints had to trade back into the second round to nab Kamara by giving up their 2018 2nd round pick and this year’s 7th round pick to the San Francisco 49ers. Sean Payton has a specific vision for Kamara who will join Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson in the backfield. The Saints conducted a private workout for Kamara during the draft process. Payton envisions Kamara as a Reggie Bush/Darren Sproles type of player who can also field kicks. Kamara was one of four team captains selected last spring.
Kamara led the Tennessee Volunteers with 127 yards and two touchdowns, eight catches for 161 yards and another TD, in addition to a 16-yard kick return in a 45-38 double-overtime loss to Texas A&M. The 312 yards represented a single-game record for Tennessee and put Kamara on NFL draft radar.
Analysis from NFL.com
One of the top high school running backs in the country as a high school senior, Kamara went to Alabama to be the next big thing. A preseason knee injury forced him to redshirt, however. He was also suspended for the Sugar Bowl and not on the sideline for the team’s game against LSU for “behavioral reasons.” Kamara left Alabama in January, but found trouble again a month later in his hometown (Norcross, GA) with a traffic arrest. He suited up for Hutchinson Community College in 2014, winning conference offensive player of the year (1,211 yards, 21 TD). Given a second chance in the SEC by Tennessee, Kamara averaged 6.5 yards per carry as a reserve in 2015 (107-698, 7 TD; 34-291, TD receiving). He was impressive again as a junior, running for 596 yards and nine scores on only 103 carries (40-392, 4 TD receiving), though he missed time with a sprained left knee (LCL, meniscus).
STRENGTHS: Spirited runner with NFL size and speed. Will open creases by varying pace of his runs. Burst to top speed is available at flip of a switch. Creates yardage with speed, wiggle and power. Twitchy and decisive. Strong lower body provides superior balance. Flexible and agile with ability to twist, spin and ricochet off of bodies and continue to gain yards after contact. Very productive; 23 touchdowns in just 284 touches at Tennessee. Well-liked inside program and a team leader. Can play on all three downs. Improved in pass protection and squares up blitzers. Has lined up at slot receiver at times. Sure-handed pass catcher with excellent burst out of breaks to consistently uncover. Has talent as punt returner.
WEAKNESSES: Vision can be hit or miss. Not an instinctive runner. Needs to see running lane develop and is missing a feel for reading progressions of his blocks. Makes inconsistent decisions on stretch plays. Can be his own worst enemy on third level. Will run himself into a tackler rather than setting him up for a downfield blocker. Consistently cuts left when given an open-field choice against tackler. With knee injuries in his background, combine medicals could come into play. Needs to tuck ball high and tight to prevent fumbles.