Cameron Jordan earned a well-deserved spot on the AP All-Pro First Team, but the New Orleans Saints saw another player named to the Second Team: rookie running back Alvin Kamara. Per multiple reports from ESPN’s Mike Triplett, the Advocate’s Nick Underhill, and the Times-Picayune’s Josh Katzenstein, Kamara placed behind only the Pittsburgh Steelers’ phenomenal Le’Veon Bell in voting for the Flex position.
After growing popular among fantasy football fans, the Flex position has gained legitimacy in the eyes of All-Pro voters and come along to encapsulate playmakers who can carve up defenses as easily on a run as a passing-play. That definition fits Kamara’s rookie season perfectly. Just look at this final regular-season stat line: 1,901 all-purpose yards and 14 touchdowns including rushing attempts, pass catches, and kickoff returns.
There’s been no shortage of praise for the former Tennessee Volunteers fan-favorite. Kamara has drawn comparison for everyone from Curtis Martin to Marshawn Lynch and Darren Sproles as a versatile asset who marches to the beat of his own drum. Saints quarterback Drew Brees gushed about Kamara and his similarities to former Saints Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush to Katzenstein earlier this week:
“I think he’s got the balance of Pierre. Pierre had incredible balance with his feet always on the ground, able to break tackles, using the ground as a leverage point. That’s a rare quality that (Kamara’s) got.
He’s super explosive, though. Reggie was explosive, so he has Reggie’s probably explosiveness and then ability to do stuff outside the backfield.
But, all wrapped up into one. And his demeanor is pretty chill, which is what Pierre was. So, yeah, he’s got kind of some of the best traits of those guys.”
The Saints gave up a lot to get Kamara, spending their 2018 second round draft pick a year early in the 2017 draft’s third round, but the return on investment has already paid for it. Kamara is a first-time Pro Bowl nomination, frequent Rookie of the Week, and now a member of the All-Pro lists. It’ll be an injustice if he doesn’t get Offensive Rookie of the Year, too.
While you’re here, learn to love Kamara a little more by reading this account of his weekend by Sports Illustrated’s Ben Baskin, as well as this briefer look into Kamara’s background from Aaron Dodson of The Undefeated. It’s great insight into a fresh face that New Orleans has already adopted as one of their own. Here’s a sample quote from Baskin:
It’s a Saturday afternoon in late December, and the sun is beginning to set in the Quarter. Cars honk as they drive past. Some stop in the middle of the road, blocking traffic, just to scream “Who Dat!” A homeless man lying on the sidewalk sits up and says, “AK.” A trumpeter follows him around the block and plays “When the Saints Go Marching In.” A horse-drawn carriage pulls back abruptly so that the driver can pay his respects. Fans ask for pictures — he always obliges — and then say that they love him. “I love you, too,” Kamara responds.