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Brad Shepard on Saints’ New RB Alvin Kamara

Bleacher Report’s Brad Shepard takes time to introduce Saints fans to their new offensive addition.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints obviously wouldn’t go the entire 2017 NFL Draft without drafting an offensive skills player, and this was proven when they traded up in the third round for Tennessee RB Alvin Kamara. FYI, his last name is pronounced “Camaro” but with an “a” at the end, instead of “cuh-mar-uh” as many media outlets will incorrectly say.

Bleacher Report’s Brad Shepard writes for national college football, but also writes for the new, covering just the Tennessee Volunteers. He took some quick time to answer a few questions for Saints to get to know their new Running Back.

So I just said that the Saints traded up in the third round to get Kamara. Were you surprised to see him still on the board in the 3rd Round with the 67th overall pick ?

I was. To be honest, I think he's a steal there because I think he's an all-around back. He didn't have to truly carry the load at Tennessee until the last half of his last year, buthe's not just a change-of-pace guy. You're talking about a player who is over 200 pounds, can catch the ball out of the backfield, and has another gear in the open field. I'm not saying he's Darren Sproles, but I think he can be used in that role in a Sean Payton offense. It's a little bit like a luxury pick for the Saints after signing Adrian Pterson, but Kamara is a guy who can be good for a long time.

What the Saints are getting is a low-mileage back with a high ceiling who can help in a lot of ways. He's a dynamic player and a phenomenal kid who is going to be the type of guy the city falls in love with, and he can flat-out get it done any way you want to use him on offense or special teams. I'd love to see him at a place with a clearer path to playing time because I believe he's deserving of being on the field right away. You guys will love him.

You mentioned Adrian Peterson, but Mark Ingram is still the starting RB in New Orleans. You also name-dropped Darren Sproles. The Saints lack a third down "scat back" in that Sproles mold right now. How does Kamara profile as a pass-catching specialist?

He's perfect for that role, but he's assuredly not a "scat back." Again, he's more than 200 pounds, and he's proven to be durable. He can run between the tackles if you want him to, and he eventually will be called on to do that. But the role he's going to be in this year is where you'd love to be able to have him. Getting him in space is perfect because he's such a terrific one-cut guy and can turn it up a gear. He's one of the best guys catching the ball out of the backfield the University of Tennessee has had in the past 15-20 years. He's excellent in the red zone catching passes and has a knack for the goal line.

Again, I think he can excel in a Sproles role. But when I say he is more than that, it doesn't mean he can't fill the role of third-down specialist. I do believe that's the role he'll play while the Ingram-Peterson duo is around, and the best thing about that for New Orleans is Alvin will thrive in that role, and he'll still be fresh to be a three-down back when his time comes.

So you think Kamara could eventually become a three-down back to replace Ingram when Mark's contract is up in two years?

I know I've already said this a couple of times, but it's a resounding “YES” from me. It was ludicrous that Jalen Hurd was the feature back during most of Kamara's tenure. Every time he touched the ball, he left fans screaming for more. He's an electric player with the ball in his hands, and when he was asked to run between the tackles, he did it well. He isn't a tip-toer, and his one-cut ability is elite. He reminds me a lot of Tiki Barber or Thomas Jones, and I see him having that type of career on the next level. He isn't needed to be a starter right away, but he absolutely could be RB1 sooner rather than later. Again, I want to reiterate an important thing about his pro ceiling is the lack of wear and tear on his body. That cannot be overstated. Getting a low-mileage guy with his upside is an exceptional buy for a third-round pick.

Not just as a third-down back, the fastest way to make an impact for the Saints this year would be on Special Teams. Obviously Kamara has a history returning punts, but the Saints just brought in Ted Ginn Jr. for that. Is Kamara the type of physical player to lay the wood on a kickoff return on the other end of Special Teams?

Eh, "lay the wood?" That's hard to say. We've never really seen him hit anybody, but he'll lower a shoulder between tackles. A place where I'd have him play is as a punt or kick returner. He took a couple to the house for the Vols, though he wasn't the primary guy. He looked great catching punts and is the type of player who can help you there because he's so good in the open field. On coverage units, though? I'm not sure.

Overall then, what can Saints fans expect from Kamara in his career with New Orleans?

You guys can expect a player you'll fall in love with. He's an eccentric character off the field, but he's a great dude. He's got that personality that fans will gravitate toward, and he's a top-shelf teammate. We're talking about a guy who was named a permanent captain at Tennessee -- one of the program's first -- in only his second year on the team as a junior. Most importantly as a player, he has the ability to become an All-Pro. I truly believe he's that kind of talent, and in the hands of play-callers like you guys have in New Orleans, he'll shine. He's going to be a weapon no matter where you put him, and he never halfway does it when he's on the field. I love that kid.

The only knock on him I ever had when he was at Tennessee was a little bit of spaciness when it came to knowing where first-down markers were and getting upfield on important downs. But, while that's a big deal, it's reaching when you consider the overall package. That'll come with more reps, which, quite frankly, he didn't have enough of in Knoxville. He's a guy who's going to be a star, and, on a personal note as a Falcons fan, I'm disappointed he's a Saint because I love to hate the Saints, and he's impossible to dislike, haha.


Well, coming from a Falcons’ fan, that’s definitely saying something.

Saints fans, if you are also a fan of the Tennessee Volunteer, make sure you check out You can also follow their work on Twitter @GamedayRockyTop. For national college football news, check out Brad’s work over at Bleacher Report, and you can follow him on Twitter @Brad_Shepard. As always, you always follow me on Twitter @dunnellz.

What do you think about the Saints newest offensive addition? Are you more excited about the Saints future at Running Back after the pick of Kamara? Let me know in the comments. Send me presents.