Sean Payton had a feeling Alvin Kamara was special early in the draft process


The Saints took a significant risk in this year’s draft, shipping both their 2018 second-round pick and a 2017 seventh-round pick to San Francisco to get the 49ers’ third-rounder. Why would the Saints give up a second-round pick and more to acquire a third-round pick?

Because, Saints coach Sean Payton said on the PFT PM podcast, they thought the player they were going to take with that pick from the 49ers, running back Alvin Kamara, was special. Payton said that when the Saints’ staff went to Tennessee to see Kamara and some of his college teammates, they came away from it knowing he was a player they wanted on their team.

“We felt in the draft process, after our workout up in Tennessee,” Payton said. “We had a vision for the player, certainly, after that day.”

Kamara didn’t have a great college career. He spent a year as a redshirt at Alabama, then a year at a community college, then two years at Tennessee as only a part-time player. So the Saints were taking a chance on a player who had never proven himself as a featured back, but Payton said it was a chance they felt good about taking.

“The thing we didn’t know was what kind of runner he was going to be because we saw evidence of it but he was splitting carries there. When he came here and got into training camp with the pads you started seeing his foot speed and his balance. He’s really been a good addition,” Payton said.

Kamara has been a great addition. With 52 carries for 311 yards, Kamara is averaging 6.0 yards a carry, the best in the NFL for players with at least 50 carries. The Saints’ trade turned out to be a risk worth taking.

26 responses to “Sean Payton had a feeling Alvin Kamara was special early in the draft process

  1. Anyone who watched a few Tennessee games knew he was good. Butch Jones just didn’t use him as much as they should have. The Saints are using him correctly.

  2. Real question, if his experience was so bad (year off, community college then a part time player) wouldn’t he have been available in the 4th, 5th, 6th or even 7th round?

  3. On pace for about 1300 scrimmage yards plus 10 TD’s, despite far fewer touches than Ingram. He’s definitely special. If you want to understand how the Saints turned things around this year, consider that their 2017 draft yielded (in addition to Kamara) star players in Lattimore (CB), Ramczyk (LT) & Williams (FS), plus two DE’s (Hendrickson & Muhammad) who are in the regular rotation. I’m not even a Saints fan, but it’s an impressive haul.

  4. As a UT fan it was frustrating watching Butch Jones waste a talent like Karmara….most Vol fans know how great he is, the only one who’s probably surprised is Jones.

  5. great draft pick up. Seems to be a blend between Pierre Thomas (good-underappreciated player), R.Bush and Darren Sproles back in 2011.

    Everything seems to be clickling for one of the youngest teams in the NFL.

  6. The ncaa rules suck. Students are not allowed to transfer without sitting out a year, but coaches can walk away from a multi-year contract in the middle of the night and step onto another campus by daybreak and no one bats an eye.

  7. “Okay. So justify the signing of All Day?”

    Apparently you have zero idea that he was signed before the draft. You are never guaranteed to get any player in the draft unless you pick first overall so the logic in signing him is that the needed another RB and there were no guarantees of getting Kamara so there you go. Not all that hard to understand really.

  8. “Why would the Saints give up a second round pick and more to acquire a third round pick?” No, not because they thought Amara was special (though that is certainly why they wanted to draft him) – it’s because draft picks for next year are valued a round lower than their actual round designation in trades. If the Saints wanted to acquire a third rounder in order to get Kamara (thinking they would miss out on him otherwise) with future picks, the cost in a 2018 pick was a second rounder. Please don’t make it sound as if they were “overpaying” because they “knew something”; that’s just the usual price for such a move.

    Also, let’s not overrate the Saints here. If they actually felt he was “special”, they would have made sure to get him with their 42nd overall pick (their third already of the draft). In reality, the team thought he was an ideal FIT as a player and were targeting him with one of two third round picks they had, but they must have had reason to believe he wouldn’t last another nine spots and so did the trade.

  9. Saints signed AD BEFORE the draft…didn’t know if Kamara would be available on draft day…signing of AD was justified at the time

  10. “Okay. So justify the signing of All Day?”
    When the Saints signed Adrian Peterson they didn’t have Kamara. Once they got him they didn’t know how good he was going to be. The emergence of Kamara made AP expendible.

  11. If only Butch Adams had the same feeling about Kamara. He might not be getting fired at the end of the year and Kamara might have gone in the first round. Good job by the Saints.

  12. Frankly, I am unsure why EVERYONE didn’t realize Kamara was the best dual threat RB to enter the league since Leveon Bell. He would have won the Heisman if he didn’t have Butch Jones coaching. The ONLY thing which will slow him down is his health.

  13. I can’t wait to watch Brees beat Brady in the SB and retire. Tommy will wish he had retired after the mob forced the Falcons to lay down in the 4th Q so their bookies wouldn’t go broke.

  14. 49wers can get someone just at good with that 2nd round pick. Saints did it because they wanted him this year.

  15. nflfan4now says:

    November 10, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Real question, if his experience was so bad (year off, community college then a part time player) wouldn’t he have been available in the 4th, 5th, 6th or even 7th round?
    Not necessarily. If you have a guy rated as a first round draft pick, and you’re confident in your scouts, you don’t worry about the other teams. The Saints might have been ready to take Kamara in the 2nd round, but then that tackle was still there. I’ll bet they had him rated as a first rounder too. The Saints obviously have a good idea of what they’re doing, because they’re drafting well lately.

  16. redsoxu571 – if you are a fan of the Saint’s you’d know that SP was touting him going into the draft. It was no secret that he thought Kamara would “fit” with his O. Why didn’t they pick him earlier – they didn’t have to! They knew they could get a few players of need first, then do what they could to move into the position where they thought other teams valued him. That is how it is done and they played it very well. They have tried that before and it not worked (SP has detailed some of those with teams grabbing his target only a pick in front of them).

    So at least give them credit for doing what they did as it was a plan from the start and it worked perfectly.

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