Tennessee’s two-year NFL Draft drought is all but guaranteed to end in 2017, when a handful of UT players are expected to be picked in various portions of the upcoming draft this April.
Defensive end Derek Barnett – who Pro Football Focus sees as the No. 3 overall player in this class – very well could become Tennessee’s first player to go in the first round since Cordarrelle Patterson was picked by the Vikings at No. 29 overall in the 2013 draft. But some of the early draft buzz is pointing to at least the possibility of a second UT player sneaking into the first round – running back Alvin Kamara.
Mike Mayock of the NFL Network called Kamara a “special talent” after watching his film.
Watched Alvin Kamara from tenn last night…WOW…burst, accel, COD…exc in pass game… Special talent- should be in 1st rd conversation
— Mike Mayock (@MikeMayock) January 11, 2017
Dane Brugler of CBS echoed some of those thoughts.
Agree, Kamara has some special skills. Doesn't receive enough love in this crowded RB class. https://t.co/xC8TdLa7Ga
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) January 11, 2017
Brugler correctly points out that it is a “crowded” running backs class. LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Florida State’s Dalvin Cook appear to be the headliners, with both looking like potential early picks. Fournette, especially, could be selected in the first several picks in April.
Kamara, who had 1,294 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns on 210 carries during his two seasons in Knoxville, can be put in the conversation with just about any other running back behind Cook and Fournette. Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey and D’Onta Foreman of Texas are among the other backs getting early-round consideration.
Kamara also brings value due to his versatility. The 5-10, 215-pound back also caught 74 passes for 683 yards during his UT career and helped out as a punt and kickoff returner at times as well.
The scouting website WalterFootball.com, which ranks Kamara as the fourth-best draft-eligible running back and projects him to be picked in the first or second round, compared him to a star NFL running back in its most recent scouting report.
“Kamara is a lot like Jamaal Charles as a runner in that both are fast slashers who are built well with some power. Additionally, Kamara is a phenomenal receiver with great hands and route-running to also be used as a slot receiver. He also is a dynamic returner on punts and kickoffs. Kamara takes on a lot of the third-down duties with blocking and receiving.”