Packers Rumors: RB Alvin Kamara a First Round Pick?

As we dive further into mock draft seasons, opinions on the Packers’ first round pick have become more and more diverse, some bordering on the ridiculous. 

To wit: at least two mock drafts we’re aware of so far have predicted Tennessee running back Alvin Karama will be the Packers’ selection when pick number 29 rolls around.

It’s understandable why people think Kamara is an intriguing option for the Packers. Daniel Jeremiah wrote that he’s a “mismatch for linebackers in the passing game,” while Todd McShay noted that Kamara has the “ability to create plays on his own.”

But while Kamara may possess those attributes (and may even be a good NFL player some day for those very reasons), he’s probably not a good fit for the Packers at 29. 

Here are three reasons why.

Running back is not the cause of the Packers’ problems.

Even a cursory glance at the Packers’ 2016 schedule makes one thing very clear: the Packers were not one running back away from a championship. Ideally, you’d want a running back that can create mismatches in different areas of the field and keep the chains moving in a game where you have the lead. 

In their own ways, both Eddie Lacy and Ty Montgomery could do that, but neither was available for a full season. But even in that light, it’s hard to see a game that could have been dramatically changed with the presence of a dynamic runner.

Even the most deceptively close game, the 33-32 loss to Atlanta, is not one that a running back probably would have changed.

Running backs are high risk. The Packers are low risk.

Much like wide receivers, running backs are very much boom or bust picks in the first round. Since 2007, 20 running backs have been selected in the first round, and 11 have gone on to make at least one Pro Bowl. However, nine of the 20 didn’t say with their teams beyond their rookie contract, and that list includes a couple of the players who made Pro Bowls.

Think of the last few years in the NFL Draft. We’ve seen backs like Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon and Trent Richardson taken high in the draft. In the last five years, here are the running backs taken in the last third of the draft: Donald Brown (27th, 2009), Beanie Wells (31st, 2009), Jahvid Best (30th, 2010), Mark Ingram (28th, 2011), Doug Martin (31st, 2012), and David Wilson (32nd, 2012). Not a very inspiring list of high profile running backs.

Consider also the evaluation by ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight on player performance in the draft. Drafting a running back in the first round doesn’t typically yield a significantly greater return than taking one later in the draft – making it harder to justify investing a team’s top pick in the position.

Kamara is a low exposure workout warrior

One of the biggest knocks (and most legitimate) knocks on Kamara isn’t his talent or production, it’s that we just haven’t seen him do it regularly. It’s easy to drool over highlights like this:

But I get a little leery when I see that he’s only had 284 career touches. Kamara originally committed to Alabama, but was suspended twice by head coach Nick Saban before asking to be released from his scholarship. 

Kamara can clearly produce in small bursts, but if the Packers are going to invest a high draft pick in a player, they need more than potential. The team needs a player who can produce at a high level at a high volume from day one, and Kamara hasn’t shown that he can do that.

What’s more, he may be a fumble risk. According to data from CBS Sports, Kamara fumbled once every 71.1 touches on average, ninth worst in this year’s draft class and well below the NFL average of once every 108.8. 

If the Packers really need help in the backfield, Kamara isn’t the one to provide it, especially if he’s only going to come to Green Bay via a first round pick.