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Scouting Profile: Running Back Alvin Kamara

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Apr 10, 2017

Former Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara has never carried the ball more than 18 times in his career. Should this be looked at as a negative when evaluating his fantasy potential?

Alvin Kamara, Tennessee

Height: 5’10”
Weight: 214 lbs.
40-yard dash: 4.56 seconds
3-Cone drill: N/A
Broad jump: 10’11”

There are certain running backs that play at a different size than they are, and Kamara is one of them. Coming in at nearly 215 pounds despite being a few inches shy of six-feet tall appears to be the body of a power back. After all, he has the same body measurables as Kenneth Dixon and Alfred Morris. But he wasn’t a power back in college, he was more of a receiving back who could do some physical things. Speaking of physical, Kamara excelled in the broad jump (10’11”) at the NFL Combine, topping all other running backs. That turned some heads, but is he a three-down back or just a third-down back?

The first thing to know about Kamara is that he’s never carried the ball more than 18 times in a game. As a matter of fact, there were just five games in which he carried the ball more than 12 times. When watching Kamara, you have to wonder why he wasn’t leaned on more, as he looked pretty good when carrying the ball. Part of the issue was that he dealt with a knee injury in 2016 that caused him to miss several games, and also may have limited him in others. Whatever the case, this can be looked at as a good or bad thing. In a way, it’s nice that he doesn’t have a lot of miles on his odometer, but in another way, it may be a telling sign of his body’s inability to hold up to a full workload.

Outside of the limited work, Kamara is a solid all-around running back. He doesn’t offer anything particularly special, though. He is fast, but not particularly elusive. There are times where he almost seems to run into a defender than try to go around him. He will break arm tackles with ease and isn’t the easiest guy to bring down, though he makes it easier on the defenders when he attacks them head-on. One of the underrated parts of his game is that he seems to get up to full speed quickly.

As mentioned before, Kamara is not a power back, but rather one who works better outside of the tackles. He’s able to play inside, but that’s not a strength to his game. His forty-time wasn’t great, but he’s quick on the field. If there’s a window, Kamara will hit it and get up to speed. He is a bit of an up-and-down runner, but has tremendous balance despite that, which is why he’s so tough to bring down.

The best attribute of his game is most definitely catching the ball out of the backfield, as he’s caught 74 passes over the last two seasons, including seven touchdowns. Tennessee used him quite a bit on screen plays, trying to get him into the open field as much as possible. He catches the ball naturally and didn’t have many errors from the games that I watched. He’s also able to return punts for teams who need him to.

When projecting Kamara in the NFL, it’s easy to see a team take a chance on him in today’s NFL with the way he’s able to be used in the passing game. There are probably teams who’ll want to wait on him given his limited tape, but there will be others who’ll wait for other reasons. Similar to other prospects, Kamara has some off-field issues in his past. He was formerly with Alabama, but was suspended twice by them for “behavioral issues.” He’s also been arrested for a traffic violation, which gives just a bit of concern. He’s also had quite the fumbling problem, as he had five of them in 2016 alone, despite touching the ball just 143 times.

Potential landing spot

When talking about running backs outside of the elite tier, it’s hard to say which team would be the most likely, because most teams can use running back depth in a league where timeshares have become the go-to thing. With that being said, the Saints are a team that should show interest in Kamara. After losing Brandin Cooks, they’ll need someone to move around the formation in order to expose defenses, and Kamara can do that. He won’t run against stacked boxes, and Sean Payton schemes to get his running backs in space. Another team to keep an eye on is the Chiefs.

NFL comparison

It’s not often that you would want to compare a player to Jamaal Charles, but that’s who Kamara should try and emulate at the NFL level. They have very similar statures, though Charles is about 10 pounds lighter. They both have on-demand speed, despite not running the fastest forty-yard dash, and both are at their best when in the open field. Charles is not known to be a running back that makes his living between the tackles, but rather one who excels on draws, sweeps, and screens. It’s a big comparison, but if I’m Kamara, I’m losing 10 pounds to try and highlight the pros that I have to my game. If he lands on the right team, Kamara will have fantasy impact.

To read up on some of the other high-profile NFL Draft prospects, check out the links below:

Leonard Fournette – (RB, LSU)
Joe Mixon – (RB, Oklahoma)
Christian McCaffrey – (RB, Stanford)
Dalvin Cook – (RB, Florida State)

Ep. 72: Dynasty Rookie Draft

Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

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