Throughout the offseason, we’ll be profiling players who may end up in Denver when all is said and done with the 2017 NFL Draft. The Broncos clearly have plenty of holes to fill before they get back to Super-Bowl form and we’ll be examining a long list of players they may choose to help the franchise do just that.
From the time Alvin Kamara graduated high school until he declared for the NFL draft after his junior season, his career, and life, have taken many turns. As the No. 1 all-purpose running back in the nation out high school, Kamara committed and attended Alabama.
After a forgettable freshman year—where preseason surgery forced him to redshirt and he was suspended for the Sugar Bowl for “behavior reasons”—Kamara chose to transfer to Hutchinson Community College for one season before finally ending up at Tennessee for his final two seasons.
At Tennessee Kamara flashed his elite talent, yet never put up incredible numbers because he was in a limited role. In his two seasons he had 23 combined total touchdowns and a 6.5 yards per carry average in 2015. In his final season Kamara averaged over 5 yards per carry, but was limited due to a sprained knee. Featuring lightning-fast acceleration, power and agility, Kamara has moved his way back up the boards as one of the nations best running backs in this year’s draft. He is currently projected to be a second-round pick.
If there is one thing that Kamara doesn’t lack it’s talent. Although he doesn’t have the biggest frame—5-foot-10, 214 pounds—he is big enough to play every down at the next level. Kamara blends quickness and power effectively as he is able to run over defenders and also out run them. While his speed isn’t elite—4.56 40-yard dash at the NFL combine—his acceleration is—allowing him to burst through or around the line before defenders can react.
Kamara is also an above-average receiver out of the backfield and can be used in the slot and also return punts. He is a great route runner and knows how to shake defenders to create space in the passing game. He is also able to pass protect in the pocket and can square up bigger defenders.
“I think the league is moving more toward having running backs that can do more catching out of the backfield and do more things in the offense and that’s what my game displays,” he said at the combine. “Catching out of the backfield. A lot of teams have been bringing up special teams and me being able to catch out of the backfield and being comfortable lining up in the slot. Just things like that.”
Finally, Kamara is very well liked by his teammates and is a leader in the locker room, which should help alleviate any concerns over his character.
In terms of physical gifts, Kamara doesn’t have many weaknesses. However, he needs to improve his football I.Q., specifically reading defenses when he has the ball in the backfield. Often he can misread running lanes and miss big holes opting for worse options instead. He also tries to kick outside more often than he should, leading to missed opportunities on the inside.
Since Kamara has never been the primary ball carrier there are concerns that his body won’t be able to hold up at the next level. In his collegiate career he has never had more than 20 carries in an individual game.
How he fits in Denver
If the Broncos were to draft Kamara—likely in the second-round—he would immediately fill multiple holes on the team. On offense, he would be the weapon that the team desperately lacked last season.
Even though Denver has C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker in the backfield, Kamara could be used as a third-down back and as a slot receiver on the other downs. He would give Mike McCoy a decoy that he could use all over the field to create matchup problems and he would have big play potential.
Kamara would also be in play to be the Broncos’ punt returner as well as potentially their kick returner. While a second-round draft pick is high for a running back on a team that already has a few, Kamara would help fill many holes on the team.