Saints: Where does Alvin Kamara’s rookie season rank in recent history?

Alvin Kamara #41 of the New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Alvin Kamara #41 of the New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara had one of the best rookie seasons in league history, but just how good was he?

Picked in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Kamara started just three games for the Saints in Year 1 but hauled in eight rushing touchdowns and 728 rushing yards along with five receiving touchdowns and 826 receiving yards.

As an immediate dual-threat in the Saints’ backfield, Kamara won Pro Bowl honors that year and every year after that for five consecutive seasons. Apparently, Kamara the only running back in recent history to achieve such a successful rookie year, per PFF’s statistics.

Kamara is tied for third overall in highest graded rookie offensive seasons since 2014, and the top-graded rookie may surprise you.

New Orleans Saints’ Alvin Kamara achieved the third-best rookie offensive season in recent history

Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Creed Humphrey stands at the top with a 91.9 PFF overall grade, while then-New York Giants draftee Odell Beckham Jr. scored 90.8 overall back in 2014.

Humphrey’s funny comment aside, the Chiefs rookie had to have an unbelievable Year 1 performance to be graded where he is, as it’s a well-known fact that offensive linemen tend to get overlooked despite serving as one of the most important units on the team. Humphrey stayed elite for his team in all 17 starts in regular season and three starts in the playoffs, and he’s absolutely deserving of the top grade, though it may be surprising to most.

As for Kamara’s continued impact in NOLA, the uber-productive back enjoyed a particularly stellar season in 2020 when he recorded 1,688 scrimmage yards, but injuries and offensive line troubles caused Kamara to falter in 2021.

Kamara recorded a career-high 6.1 yards per carry in his rookie year, but this past season he managed just 3.7 yards per carry. Time will tell if Kamara can bring his early career production levels into 2022, but he remains arguably the most dangerous threat in NOLA’s offense.

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Whatever happens, Kamara will go down in history as one of NOLA’s best draft picks in the past decade.