Alvin Kamara is one of the more polarizing players in the upcoming NFL draft. In order to get a full scope of why this is, you must understand how he came to relevance at Tennessee.
Kamara was behind another polarizing running back on the depth chart, 6’4″ monster Jalen Hurd. Then unexpectedly, Hurd announced his decision to transfer in the middle of last season. This is where Kamara really started to flash as an NFL prospect.
The Georgia native is now being mocked as high as the 4th-best running back among a loaded class of incoming rookies. This would imply that experts see him as a 3-down back at the next level. I’m not as bullish as some experts on him, but I do believe his role at the next level can be that of a 3rd down back that also gets 5-8 carries per game.
Weight: 214 lbs
Hand size: 9 1/4″
40 time: 4.56 seconds
Bench press reps: 15
3-cone time: N/A
Vertical leap: 39.5″
Broad jump: 131″
Kamara is just a shade small for that “feature back” role. You usually like them to be at least 215 and ideally 220 lbs. This is another reason why I would tend to lean towards putting Alvin in the passing-down back category rather than a true 3-down back role. His athleticism is going to have NFL teams very interested in him in the draft.
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The college receiving numbers really speak for themselves. 74 catches in 2 non-starting years says to me that he was heavily involved in what Tennessee was doing through the air especially when you consider he only received 210 carries in that time frame. Kamara’s speed and agility are really highlighted here as the passing game regularly put him in open space where he is most formidable.
Something that can only come from watching a good chunk of tape on a player is an evaluation of vision. Vision is what separates the backs that are just athletes from those who can actually manipulate a defense to gain yards in the NFL. The reality is, NFL defenses are stacked with freak athletes. Being an athlete at running back just isn’t enough anymore. Watch this GIF of him against Georgia last year to see more about what I am talking about:
In this play, there is a gaping hole on the left side of the field. If Kamara bounces this outside, it’s a minimum of 8 yards and a broken tackle away from bursting into the secondary. Instead, he forces the play right into the middle of 5 Georgia defenders. It almost doesn’t matter how athletic this back is because he won’t realize his full potential until he learns to see the field better. In the NFL, you have to take what the defense gives you.
Goes down too easily
This is not an attribute you want in a player where breaking tackles is so important to his success. In watching several of Alvin’s games, I saw him take little hits and get thrown backward on numerous occasions. Here is just one example:
If you put the time into watching him on film, you will see this time and time again. This worries me because if he is being taken down easily by college competition, he is going to get destroyed by NFL linebackers.
On the Dynasty Life Podcast, I compare Kamara to Duke Johnson. I really see Kamara at his best in a 3rd down role similar to Duke.
If you want to hear more about Kamara, we talk about him on the Dynasty Life Podcast in addition to some other intriguing rookies. You can find that episode here. The bottom line for me is that I don’t think Kamara is going to be a great NFL back. He clearly relies too much on his athleticism and could use some coaching to increase his vision and awareness. I project him as an above-average 3rd-down back in the NFL due to his pass-catching prowess and his pass-protection skills. He understands how to get open for his QB and that’s where I see him finding his niche at the next level.