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2017 NFL Draft PREVIEW Scouting Report: RB Alvin Kamara, Tennessee

February 14, 2017

‘Preview’ scouting reports are when I take a look at a small amount of tape and overall output data we have on a non-QB prospect before the NFL Combine and complete a preview report on what I’m seeing before I do a larger scouting study after the NFL Combine or Pro Days. Our computer scouting models cannot function properly without the NFL Combine and/or Pro Day data, so I’m not committing to these scouting reports being my definitive word on the prospect. Using what we have, I wanted to take a glimpse at some of the bigger names to share what I see initially.

If someone told me to keep an eye on Tennessee running back prospect Alvin Kamara as a solid draft pickup in the 6th-7th round, I would politely nod my head…and then quietly think about how I would never waste a draft pick on a running back who wasn’t special; that any draft pool is just too deep with solid RB prospects/options. If someone told me Kamara was a for sure top 3-5 RB prospect in 2017 and an obvious Day Two draft prospect – I’d have them drug tested.

After looking at a few scouting services and national draft websites, where do I see Alvin Kamara rated? Ranked #4-5 among all RB prospects for this draft with 1st-2nd round draft grades. You have to be kidding me.

I’m not saying that Kamara is a bust prospect…but a top 50 overall prospect, really? In this era of de-emphasis/devaluation of the running back in the NFL along with the bountiful RB prospect options available late in recent drafts and as UDFAs, plus the fact that Kamara is nothing special…how could anyone possibly see a top 50 prospect here?

There’s just nothing all that special about Alvin Kamara. He doesn’t have great NFL size at 5’10″/210-215. He’s definitely not a bruiser or a main-carry workhorse. He’s not a speedster either. I’d project him around a 4.50-4.55 40-time with solid agility. He has good hands, but people are overblowing this by saying he has ‘great hands’. Just because Tennessee threw him a bunch of dump passes in a few games in 2016 doesn’t mean he has great hands. He has good hands for screens and swings but doesn’t necessarily have that extra kick of being a capable downfield, wheel route/deeper threat out of the backfield. He doesn’t have ‘bad hands’…just not what I would grade as ‘great hands’. I emphasize the hands thing because much of Kamara’s prospectus lies in people falling all over themselves proclaiming how great his hands are. I don’t see that they’re that great…he just had a few games with lots of dump pass and screen catches, and analysts are lazily leaping to a conclusion they can all parrot each other on.

Kamara could wind up with approximately the same athleticism measurables and size as Kenneth Dixon, at a fraction of what Dixon accomplished/produced in college. Kamara reminds me more of Illinois 2016 UDFA RB prospect Josh Ferguson – pretty good hands/reliable out of the backfield, and a below average runner of the ball for the next level…good runner in college because of the athleticism advantage, but neutralized advantage in the pros. Dixon had more of a gift for running the ball…I don’t see it in Kamara yet.

Kamara is not a goal line threat. He is not a great runner between the tackles. He’s not a breakaway runner (his tape is littered with him running through wide open holes and then getting caught from behind in the open field). You really don’t have much of a major running threat here for the NFL. So, you’re getting reliable hands with average NFL size/speed/agility. And some team is paying a top 50 draft price for this? Probably.

Kamara is not a bust, he’s useful…but backup rosters and practice squads are littered with dozens just like him. I’m not sure what he will bring to the table to differentiate himself. He is a reliable punt returner, so that’s an advantage. An NFL team is going to draft Kamara as a pass-game threat out of the backfield and he’ll do OK/fine for them, but it’s really a franchise adding a ‘C+’ weapon and burning a high draft pick to do so. Because of what teams could have drafted…it’s going to make Kamara a poor draft choice. An NFL team could have done SO much better.

From a fantasy football perspective…I guess if he lands in the perfect spot and sees a lot of targets he could give some PPR hope. I just don’t see where Kamara is unique or special…or worth chasing after in most circumstances. He’s not going to hurt an NFL team, I just don’t think he’ll help them all that much either. There will be plenty more options to consider ahead of Kamara for the NFL and fantasy. His current draft status is way overblown. If he does run a 4.55 +/- at the NFL Combine…and comes in closer to 210 pounds…he’s not going top 50. He will be more top 100 at best. He should go undrafted with those size-athleticism metrics but he has draft momentum and played in the SEC, and that will give him a draft valuation among scouts he doesn’t really deserve.

If Kamara runs a 4.4+ 40-time and has sweet agility times at 215 pounds, then I’ll reconsider my enthusiasm, but he’s still a #100-150 prospect for the NFL and suspect NFL prospect dependent upon what team he lands with.

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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is an NFL Draft analyst for College Football Metrics, and a football projections analyst and writer for Fantasy Football Metrics. 

Learn more about RC and the College Football Metrics system >>