The New Orleans Saints could very well end up with both the offensive and defensive rookies of the year, but one of them was certainly not expected to compete for the honor. In the first two rounds, the Saints selected Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk, and Marcus Williams who would all become starters in their rookie season. The thing is, they worked 1,000 times more to get running back Alvin Kamara in the third round and it took a lot of negotiating.
With the 11th overall pick, Lattimore was an easy decision for the Saints and he leads all candidates for NFL Defensive Rookie of the year. Ramczyk anchored a strong offensive line and Williams lined up in a strong Saints secondary with Lattimore.
But…what about Alvin Kamara? How many teams had him on their board and were looking to take him with their selections in the third round?
The Saints already had Mark Ingram in the offensive backfield and some found it quite strange that they would trade up to take the young back from Tennessee. At the end of the 2017 season, it may have been one of the best moves of the entire draft and the Saints went into overtime to get the pick done.
After drafting Williams with the 42nd overall pick in the second round, the Times-Picayune reports that the Saints really got to work. Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis said that the team became extremely impatient knowing that Kamara was still on the board and knew that something needed to be done.
Loomis said that three other Saints reps and himself began frantically calling every team that had a higher pick than them. It is believed that Jeff Ireland and head coach Sean Payton were some of those placing phone calls to other NFL war rooms.
“Well, we weren’t waiting. We were calling every team in front of us until we found somebody that wanted to trade.”
Upon getting in touch with the San Francisco 49ers, the Saints had found someone to work with them. New Orleans acquired the 67th overall pick (third pick in Round 3) in exchange for their second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and it certainly appeared to pay off.
At the end of the 2017 NFL regular season, Alvin Kamara finished with 728 rushing yards, 826 receiving yards, and 13 total touchdowns. The Offensive Rookie of the Year award is a race between the Saints’ back and running back Kareem Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Looking back on the season, though, it is hard to forget some of Kamara’s highlights and his stat sheet says a lot too.
Round 3, Pick No. 67
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) January 23, 2018
It’s a really close race and both teams ended up in the playoffs which won’t make voting any easier. USA Today is reporting that New Orleans really could end up with both awards, but they aren’t getting ahead of themselves as the two rookies participate in Pro Bowl practice this week.
The New Orleans Saints were hoping to be in next week’s Super Bowl, but they came up just short in a loss to the Minnesota Vikings in the Divisional Round. Now, there is a lot of faith in the team again and plenty of hope for the future with a crop of young players who are ready to claim the NFL as their own. One of those players is running back Alvin Kamara who proved he was worth all the time and effort spent by Saints’ executives at last year’s draft.