Running back Alvin Kamara has been the biggest surprise for the New Orleans Saints in the 2017 season. Since making the roster at the start of the season, Kamara has continued to grow week to week, making things difficult for opposing defenses in his rookie season. He, alongside running back Mark Ingram, have led the Saints to becoming top three in the NFL in rushing yards. And Kamara is making a case for the top rookie in the league.
Kamara has been named the Rookie of the Week in the NFL the past four weeks. Overall, he has been named Rookie of the Week five total times and could be awarded it again from his performance this past weekend. Kamara ranks in the top three in rushing, receiving, and all-purpose yards among rookies. And he has one of the best yards per rush average for rookies. He also has eleven touchdowns throughout the season, second among rookies only to quarterback Deshaun Watson. If it were not for a torn ACL in November, Watson would be in the running to challenge Kamara for Rookie of the Year.
The main competition for Kamara in the Rookie of the Year race comes at the running back position. Kareem Hunt from Kansas City was the front runner at the beginning of the year, but has dropped in the past few weeks. Hunt still leads all rookies in rushing yards and ranks third in the NFL. Running back Aaron Jones from Green Bay broke onto the scene in the middle of the season, winning Rookie of the Week twice this year.
Outside of running backs, tight end Evan Engram from the New York Giants has made several big plays throughout the season. Engram has gotten these chances after injuries to Giants receivers Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp from the Rams has also been solid, leading all rookies in receiving yards. But overall, the competition against Kamara simply does not match up.
Kamara ranks in the top five in the NFL in all-purposive yards with a total of 1,220 yards from scrimmage. The most impressive thing about Kamara is his efficiency every time he gets the ball. He averages over eight yards per carry or reception and has one of the least amount of rushing attempts/receptions among the players at the top of the leaderboard. If Kamara can keep his yards per touch average, it would be the most for any player in the last 25 years with his amount of rushes/receptions.
The expectation is that Kamara will begin to slow down as the season ends or will face a sophomore slump next year. But what if he doesn’t? Kamara’s work ethic and the effort he has on every play can make him a solid player for a long time. He does not give up on plays, fighting for extra yards when defenders may think the play is over. With four weeks left in the season, Kamara needs to keep up the play he has had throughout. Unless he faces possible adversity from injury, Kamara has a clear path to winning Rookie of the Year.
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