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.