The Minnesota Vikings are clearly looking for additional prospects at running back, as they continue to research, interview and visit with incoming rookies.
The latest reported visit is with former Tennessee Volunteers running back Alvin Kamara, who visited the Vikings this week, according to NFL Network.
Kamara started his college career at Alabama, but quickly transferred to Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College after a knee injury and then a suspension for “behavioral issues” marred his time with the Crimson Tide. He then spent two seasons with the Volunteers, where he rushed only 210 times for 1,294 yards and 16 touchdowns but also caught 74 passes for 683 yards and seven touchdowns. The rushing-receiving component of his game is an important consideration.
“My versatility, that’s a major thing,” Kamara said. “I think when you come on the field, you can see I’m different than a lot of those backs, but still I have the same qualities.”
Despite not playing behind a very good offensive line at Tennessee, Kamara still averaged 6.2 yards per carry, much of that attributable to being one of the most elusive runners in this deep class of running backs.
While he isn’t the most powerful back and there are questions about his ability to pass protect, Pro Football Focus ranked him second in “elusiveness,” forcing a missed tackle one out of every 3.2 touches, and fourth in yards per route.
At 5-foot-10, 214 pounds, he realizes his game could use some improvement in pass protection and believes that improvement has already begun.
“I think it’s grown from the pass protection standpoint and I think that’s still where I need to grow,” he said. “I’m not where I want to be but I’ve gotten better. Willingness and more experience with doing it.”
NFL teams will love his versatility, but one of the questions will be how many carries he can handle consistently on a game-by-game basis throughout the rigors of a full NFL season. In two years at Tennessee, he had only five games with 15 or more carries and 14 games with fewer than 10 carries. But, as PFF pointed out, teams could also consider the lack of wear and tear a positive thing.
“I talked about that a little bit with teams and it’s honestly a good thing, the limited amount of carries,” he said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “Of course they wanted to see more production, but the limited amount of carries, I mean, save it for the league.”
Another thing that teams were curious about when interviewing him at the Combine, which the Vikings did as well, was the reason for him transferring from Alabama.
“It was just a long road, you know?” he said. “From transferring from Alabama, going to junior college, that’s the lowest levels, being true to myself and staying grounded in what I believe in really helped me in the process. Then going to Tennessee and obviously standing right here [at the Combine] is definitely a blessing.”
NFL teams will consider his best-in-class performances in the vertical jump (39½ inches) and broad jump (10-foot-11) a blessing, too.
“I think the league is moving more towards having running backs that can do more catching out of the backfield and do more things in the offense,” Kamara said, “and that’s what my game displays.”