2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Tennessee RB Alvin Kamara


We’re back again breaking down prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft, set to kick off on April 27th through the 29th. Our goal this season is to write reports on at least 150 players and hopefully, as many as 200. It will, of course, have a focus on Pittsburgh Steelers’ wants and needs but we will look big-picture too at the best players in this year’s draft.

If there’s a player you would like us to breakdown, let us know in the comments below.

Alvin Kamara / RB Tennessee 5’10 215 lbs

The Good:

– Quick burst
– Speed
– Elusiveness
– Rarely goes down on first contact
– Fluid route running
– Great hands for a running back


The Bad:

– Can be impatient and outrun his blockers at times
– Durability concerns
– May struggle in pass protection against NFL linebackers

Bio:

– 2016: Had 596 rushing yards on 103 rushing attempts (5.8 YPA)
– In 2 seasons with Tennessee, Kamara notched 74 receptions for 683 yards
– Originally signed with Alabama, was suspended twice by Nick Saban before asking for his release
– Played one season at Hutchison Community College, scoring 21 touchdowns before transferring to Tennessee
– Has showed great leadership since joining Tennessee

Tape Breakdown:

Alvin Kamara may be one of the most exciting prospects of this year’s draft to watch on tape. One of Kamara’s greatest features is his incredible burst, which Kamara is able to flash almost instantly after receiving a handoff. Due to his great burst Kamara is able to quickly accelerate through any holes in the line before a defender has a chance to wrap him up in the backfield.

Take a look at Kamara’s burst through the line here.

Facing a third and one against the Georgia defense, Kamara’s burst through the line takes him up field in a heartbeat. This play is also a great testament of Kamara’s vision which has been questioned by a few analysts.  At the snap Georgia’s defense moves to the strong side of Tennessee’s line expecting an outside run, Kamara notices this and quickly cuts up the middle. A perfection combination of vision, burst and play design gives Kamara a 13-yard gain on third and one.

While Kamara may appear lean and slender on tape, his ability to break tackles and play bigger than his size caused big troubles for opposing defenses. What truly separates the great shifty backs from the Dri Archers of the sport is the ability to create yards after contact. While Kamara may not be the kind of player to push a pile himself on third and short situations, you will not find the running back knocked off his feet by shoulder or arm tackles either.  I was amazed at watching Kamara on tape as the running back almost never goes down on initial contact.

Here is a perfect example of Kamara’s ability to create yards after initial contact.

Watch how Kamara is able to shed not one, not two, nor three but four Vanderbilt defenders to score. Kamara’s great balance and strength keep the running back upright as he gushes through the Vanderbilt defense. And if you thought the play above was impressive, here is Kamara in the same game, watch how Kamara outdoes his previous effort by breaking six tackles on the way to end zone.

Astonishing. The only word that can describe Kamara’s determination for finding the end zone on the play above. Simply said that with his great speed and balance, defenders are often forced to take desperation tackles to pursue Kamara, making Kamara one of the most dangerous open field threats of his class.

The previous play may also serve as a foreshadow to Kamara’s next great asset. Kamara is not only a nightmare for opposing defenses in the screen game but is also capable of being a legitimate threat while lining up wide as a receiver.

Kamara is a fluid route runner and has great hands for a running back. Having a linebacker or safety line up wide across from Kamara is a huge mismatch swaying in the offense’s favor. Watch Kamara below as the running back runs a smooth and crisp route across the field before turning up field to do what he does best.

Kamara’s sharp cut leaves the defensive back tasked with guarding him flat footed for a fraction of a second, enough to give Kamara enough time to gain separation. Score this one as another big play for Kamara and another occasion in which the back breaks more than one tackle before being brought to the ground.

Kamara can effectively run and catch the football but now the sole question remains, can the 215-pound back pass block? Running through his tape, Kamara definitely did not shy away from pass protection and helped chip in on more than a few occasions. On the tapes available, I did not notice Kamara in the situation where he had to anchor against an incoming pass rusher coming at full speed. The closest I got to that situation was this clip below, where Kamara seems to hold his own against a Virginia Tech defensive lineman.

While Kamara did stand his ground against the defensive lineman in the play above, the lineman was already picked up by a previous blocker before hitting Kamara. This would severely impact the lineman’s power and rush. Working with the film available, Kamara looked confident and ready to pass protect when called upon.

Another small concern with Kamara is his durability and workload capacity. Kamara failed to ever attempt over 20 rushing attempts in a game at Tennessee, as the back was splitting carries with Jalen Hurd up until Hurd’s departure from Tennessee this October. In addition to this, Kamara also suffered two knee injuries last season, raising questions about if the running back can handle being a primary ball carrier in the NFL.

In the end, the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara. The running back possesses great burst, elusiveness, and speed while complimented by great pass catching abilities. The franchise that selects Kamara on Draft Day will be adding a highly talented player to their roster. While I am on the fence about Kamara’s stock as I can definitely envision him climbing into the first round, I am leaning more towards an early day two selection.

Projection: Early Day Two

Games Watched: Vs Virginia Tech, at Vanderbilt, vs Alabama, vs Georgia, vs Bowling Green

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad KaayaNate PetermanO.J. Howard
Charles Harris

  • T3xassteelers

    When are you guys going to do Mahomes?

  • Ike Evans

    Beast

  • Daniel Valente

    should be sooner rather than later

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    I like him, we need a playmaker other than bell or ab

  • Spencer Krick

    This guy is fun to watch! I think the lack of patience would be a good counter-balance to Bell. Don’t think the Steelers go RB early enough to get him, but that burst though.

  • Daniel Valente

    Really fun to breakdown, Kamara kind of reminded me of Giovanni Bernard in a sense. But yeah, do not think RB is high enough on Steelers’ need list to take Kamara.

  • Jon Crissinger

    Issues… with patience huh? Well maybe there’s some type of patient running back around here he can learn from. I’ve been recently seeing him mocked in the first two rounds a lot though.

  • Jason Vancil

    Ideally we find a 2nd back with speed that could also return kicks.

  • Applebite

    I’m leaning towards Jamaal Williams and Samaje Perine…

  • Boots

    That could be a great compliment to Bell and his patient style

  • Daniel Valente

    Could be as a 3rd down back but I believe Kamara will be gone by the time the Steelers look at possible running backs.

  • Paddy

    Just what they need, a bigger faster James White

  • LucasY59

    I think he would be a good fit in the Offense, but dont think he fits into the Steelers draft plans (good chance he is gone before the Steelers 2nd pick, and even if he is available, they will likely use that pick on a different position)

  • Douglas Andrews

    This is why DeAngelo might not be resigned. Steelers might want a younger backup for LB. Kamara has some nice tape and his pass protection is something he can improve on.

  • He looks great pin-balling off of guys who don’t know how to tackle. I would like to Steelers add a guy who can be a home run threat in the screen/check-down game. Would be a great compliment to Bell. Must be willing to work hard on pass pro. And no, I’m not talking about another Rainey/Archer type of guy. Someone who’s got speed, preferably shorter, low center of gravity, turns on a dime type guy, but with some meat on his bones.

  • Gerald Brown

    Pass

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I like him and wouldn’t be upset with the pick but I am not in love with him. I feel we can get someone just as good later in the draft.