College production is not the end all, be all of NFL evaluation. However, it is hard to find elite players at any position who did not post even somewhat impressive numbers while they were at the college level. Of course there are outliers, but the vast majority of these top players were posting standout production, at least relative to the team they were on.
Tennessee's Alvin Kamara is going to put this history to the test. Kamara was tied for 174th in rushing yards last season and only has 284 career touches. Kamara transferred from Alabama early in his college career and then spent most of his time being a committee back as a Vol, so that type of history may make it a bit difficult to predict how he does in the NFL. However, when Tennessee did get the ball to Kamara on a regular basis, they were rewarded mightily.
Despite having a relatively limited role in his career, Kamara scored total 23 touchdowns in his two seasons. Over those two seasons, his total touchdown rate (touchdowns per touch) is 8%. That incredible figure would be fourth in the class this season, and among "top" backs, only Curtis Samuel scored at a higher rate. Once again, Kamara's limited sample size affects these projections, but his efficiency on his touches and how good he looks on tape makes it hard not to get excited about him.
Kamara's ability to get to his top speed is among the best in the class. While he may not have an elite second gear, his acceleration gets him to the second level quickly. His 0-60 also makes him more dangerous in space because of how he can change direction without losing speed.
His lateral movement looks effortless because his feet always seem to be moving quickly and moving forward, which is so much more effective than pure long speed.
Kamara's movement skills are not even his best asset, amazingly enough. Kamara is so good because of his balance, lower body strength, and how he finishes runs. At 5-10 and maybe 210 pounds, Kamara is a bit smaller of a back, but it would be impossible to tell with the way he is consistently carrying defenders at the end of runs.
In the short span of that run, Kamara broke at least four tackles. This is light work for him.
It is marvelous how consistently he is able to do this. He seems almost totally unfazed by contact and it rarely keeps him from where he is going. His ability to stay low as a runner while keeping his feet moving make him so difficult to stop on initial contact.
Not only is he a great runner, but his quickness and incredible offensive creativity make him a very dangerous third down back.
Does not matter if it's a handoff or a dump off, Alvin Kamara will run through your face.
Once again, it is crazy how often he does this in the amount of touches he has gotten in his career. He broke seven tackles on a pass that traveled five yards! The obvious talent to create yardage in any situation makes him so valuable, regardless of college production.
Tennessee also used him in the slot and unsurprisingly he is incredibly good there as well.
So there are obviously a lot of reasons to be taken with Kamara as a prospect. What does give pause is how high of a fumble rate he had in college. Seven fumbles over the course of his career means he fumbled almost once every 40 touches, which is by far the highest number in the class. His hard running style can definitely have drawbacks in that regard. Also, it is hard to predict how he carries an NFL workload considering he has never had more than 110 carries in a season. As a smaller running back, can he handle 250 carries? That's hard to guess at this point.
Kamara reminds me of Danny Woodhead and it would be unsurprising if he had a similar role in the NFL. Despite being a bit smaller without a top gear, Kamara's quickness, receiving skills and impressive finishing ability will find him on an NFL field if he can hold onto the football. Woodhead also overcame his size to be one of the best role players in the league for a long time and Kamara could be a similarly versatile and productive weapon in an offense.
This is no slight at Kamara, however. The role he can play in the NFL is incredibly valuable at the level he can play it and with the potential that he can be a feature back, it is hard to undervalue Kamara's draft stock. All things considered, there are only a few backs who should be drafted ahead of him. For the Eagles, he would be an excellent second day pick because you know he can make a positive impact as a receiver, and if he can handle a bulk of the carries, too? You have a potential stud.