20/20: Alvin Kamara

Travis May

Welcome to the 20/20 series. As part of our continued Dynasty Scouts coverage and in preparation for the NFL Combine, we’ll be profiling 20 of the top incoming rookies of the class of 2017 by giving you 20 facts you must know.

1.) Player Name – Alvin Kamara

2.) College – Tennessee

3.) Height/Weight – 5’10”, 215 pounds (probably a little generous, but that’s his listed weight)

4.) Birth Date – July 25, 1995 (21)

5.) Class – Redshirt Junior (Junior College Transfer)

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6.) College stats – This is probably one of the most difficult things to account for when assessing Alvin Kamara.  He only really played two full seasons of Division I NCAA Football, and even in those two seasons Kamara never really got to feature for an entire year in the offense.  Jalen Hurd hogged a lot of attention for most of Kamara’s Tennessee career.  Kamara totaled 210 carries, 1294 rushing yards, 16 rushing touchdowns, 74 receptions, 683 receiving yards and seven receiving TDs.  Alvin did have one crazy string of five games in 2016 after Jalen decided to transfer midseason where he racked up eleven of his 23 total touchdowns.  It’s been interesting to see how that string of games has propelled him into early round discussion.

7.) NFL Draft round projection – Round two or three.  Kamara has been mocked as early as the end of the first and as late as the fifth round over the past month or so.  After he shows his near elite speed and burst in the 40-yard dash and shuttle drills many will probably overreact.  Realistically, he’ll probably find a home in between picks 60 and 90.

8.) Current NFL compLamar Miller.  Both Lamar and Alvin are slightly undersized running backs with impressive wheels.  I doubt Lamar runs a 4.4 anymore, but Kamara very well may do run something close to that.  Neither of them tend to invite heavy contact and often attempt to juke just slightly to avoid massive damage.  The biggest thing I see that they have in common is their tendency to kick out of their initial lane and look for something bigger one gap over.  Lamar doesn’t have the same passing game chops that Kamara brings to the table, but they definitely have several similarities.

9.) Best possible destination – Indianapolis Colts.

The Colts haven’t been known to have the best offensive lines in the past few years, but 33-year-old Frank Gore to be a decent fantasy RB2 over the past two seasons.  An offense with Andrew Luck at the helm and some decent wide receivers to open up the box would help take some weight off of Kamara’s shoulders early.  A year or two learning from one of the best running backs of this generation (Gore), plenty of opportunities to score, and Kamara’s skillset as a pass catcher would all fit nicely to set him up for success.

10.) Worst possible destination – Arizona Cardinals.

There’s a good chance the Cardinals bring in a better backup and change-of-pace option than Chris Johnson or Andre Ellington.  If Kamara is that guy, I’m not touching him.  His ceiling would always be capped and fixed in a role with no more than five to seven touches per game.  If you want to argue that he would be a direct handcuff, it still doesn’t hold much weight long term.  The quarterback situation will get very muddy after 2017 and Kamara doesn’t have the frame or skillset to be a true feature (like David Johnson does) in an offense that would heavily rely on him to break runs against eight-man fronts.

11.) Best current skill – Alvin Kamara’s best skill may be his timing of acceleration.  It’s very subtle, but if you watch him very long you’ll see what I mean.  He doesn’t have the best vision to set up linebackers on inside runs, but shows much differently in off-tackle and outside run (or screen) situations.  What does this mean?  In many outside runs it takes more time for pulling guards or centers to make contact with their second level blocks.  Kamara does a great job of timing his acceleration right as the most pivotal contact is made in the blocking scheme.

12.) Skill that needs to be improved – Alvin’s biggest key to improve upon if he ever wants an early-down role in the NFL is his decision-making inside the tackles.  Many times Alvin is just too reactionary on inside runs.  Instead of making decisive steps to influence second level defenders Alvin tends to simply read the current positions of defenders and then makes his decision.  That very often ends in Alvin getting stuffed or causes him to want to bounce the run outside (and fails to do so in many cases).  Lamar Miller (my comp for Alvin) had similar bad habits early on his career.  If Alvin can grow in this skill it would be an absolute game-changer.

13.) Past/current rookie ADP – Right now Kamara is ranked in between picks eight and thirteen with the exception of one ranker here at DLF.  Right after Alvin transferred to Tennessee he was viewed as a potential high future draft pick, but that quickly faded.  Jalen Hurd cast a rather large shadow over his future NFL value for quite some time, but last fall when Alvin was given a feature opportunity he exploded onto the scene with 288 total yards against Texas A&M.  His ranking and rookie ADP have soared through the roof since then.

14.) Projected dynasty value – Alvin Kamara will more than likely crush the combine here soon.  I’ll explain why I’m confident of this a few bullet points from now.  When he does, the entire dynasty community will overreact.  If the NFL overreacts to and selects him early in the second round, Alvin will be very difficult to acquire.  The landing spot will be crucial, but many will look past that (if it’s bad) and take Kamara anyway.  You’ll most likely have to spend a top ten rookie pick on Kamara in many leagues.  That kind of draft capital generally lends itself towards decent value insulation even if Kamara doesn’t produce right away.  Good luck acquiring him.  The price will probably steeper than he’s worth.

15.) Sample size, shmample size – Some dynasty owners worry about drafting players with limited sample sizes.  Well, NFL teams tend not to worry about it if the athletic attributes are there.  Just last season both Kenyan Drake and CJ Prosise were taken inside the third round despite having very limited production.  Alvin Kamara has a chance to have a better combine than either of them.  A team will draft him early and give him an opportunity.

16.) Speedy Gonzalez – Back in 2013, Alvin Kamara ran a 4.55-second 40-yard dash.  That would have been right at the average among running backs at last year’s NFL Combine.  He has a real shot at hitting somewhere around 4.4 this year.  If he does, Alvin could be close to the fastest running back at the combine.

17.) A sudden burst of Kamara – Alvin’s high school 20-yard shuttle was 4.28, which would have been just above average last year in Indianapolis.  His vertical jump is what really impressed coming out of high school – he hit 39 inches.  That would have been higher than any running back at the combine last year, and he did that when he was just 17.  The burst and bounce we’ll see here from Alvin soon is inevitable.

18.) Reception collection – Kamara caught more passes this year (40) than Elijah McGuire (29), Dalvin Cook (33), Jeremy McNichols (37), Joe Mixon (37), and even Christian McCaffrey (37).  He did it in just 11 games and wasn’t even the starter until October.

19.) Exaggerated size – Alvin may very well weigh in at 215, but it isn’t likely.  He was around 190 coming out of high school.  There really hasn’t been much added to his frame.

20.) Can he carry the load? – We really don’t know what Alvin can do with an expanded workload.  If you select a running back in the first round of your rookie draft, the expectation is generally some chance for a feature role.  Kamara had more than 15 carries just three times in 24 games at Tennessee.  Time will tell if he can be a relevant fantasy running back.