One of the last things New Orleans Saints fans expected to hear in the first few rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft was the name of an offensive skill player. Let alone a running back.
Just days after adding running back Adrian Peterson, New Orleans Saints fans everywhere looked for the team to sure up the defensive secondary and the defensive line with an EDGE rusher. While the first one came early with CB Marshon Lattimore out of Ohio State, the pass rush took a back seat to an explosive backfield prospect from The University of Tennessee in running back Alvin Kamara.
Alvin Kamara came out of high school rated the #1 all-purpose running back in the nation and the #5 player in the state of Georgia. Running into issues with his coaches at Alabama, as well as law enforcement, Kamara transferred to a Junior College in Kansas before enrolling at Tennessee one year later. Kamara matured and eventually became a team captain his final season at Tennessee as a Junior.
Even while serving as the backup for 18 games to the now departed running back Jalen Hurd, who left the team mid-season, Kamara was able to produce at every position he was put in, scoring 23 touchdowns in two seasons on just 284 offensive touches. He added another touchdown in the return game on 26 career punt returns. Kamara showed he has excellent balance, often bouncing off defenders and putting his hand on the ground while still moving forward and gaining positive yards, while also showing the ability to make defenders miss.
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While fans didn’t foresee the Saints would take a running back early in the 2017 NFL draft, if at all, head coach Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis were apparently very high on Alvin Kamara. The team even considered using the 42nd overall pick on him, before selecting Utah safety Marcus Williams. Experts expect Payton to use Kamara in his “Joker” running back. The “Joker” back does little bit of everything. Much like running backs Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles.
While that may be a tall task for some, Kamara seems excited to be used in that role.
"“Those guys, they catch a lot of ball, they did a lot of things with their versatility. I feel like I’m kind of like the same kind of player, just versatile and able to catch the ball well and run,” Kamara said during a teleconference with the media on Friday. “If that’s what Coach Payton and those guys need from me, I’m comfortable in doing it. I’m comfortable catching the ball, whatever they need me to do, I’m going to do it. I’m just excited to be a part of the organization.”"
While Kamara has shown some carelessness with the ball, fans should be excited about the possibilities he brings. You can expect him to line up all over the field and contribute in every aspect of offense. And the return game.
While Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson are expected to be the one-two punch in the backfield, getting Kamara filled a hole at the utility running back role that Sean Payton likes. He also serves as a security blanket to the recently oft-injured Peterson. While the Saints may have probably been better suited filling their need at defensive end, they obviously weren’t sold on any of the players available.
Kamara brings talent to an already explosive offense. It’s better to take the best available player or someone you believe in than to force a pick that you don’t expect will fit your scheme. Saints fans will have to wait and see if Kamara was worth the team’s 2018 2nd round pick. But if he’s able to produce, help spell Ingram and Peterson and provide a spark on third down, fans will see why Payton was so excited about trading up to draft him.