Tennessee football’s top 10 NFL players to open 2021 season

Sep 9, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) runs after a catch against the Houston Texans during the first quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 9, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) runs after a catch against the Houston Texans during the first quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /
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Oct 4, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) runs the ball during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 4, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) runs the ball during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

Alvin Kamara. Running back. New Orleans Saints. 1. player. 15. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis

NFL experience: 5th year

He wasn’t an undrafted player, but Alvin Kamara was one of the biggest steals in history among former Tennessee football players. Falling to the third round in 2017 has been a major story for years, as he’s been a star for the New Orleans Saints.

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Kamara’s existence helped resurrect Sean Payton’s offense, and as long as he stays there while keeping his athleticism, he’ll continue to do that. There’s a reason the 5’10” 215-pound all-purpose back has made the Pro Bowl every season he’s played in the NFL. He’s a superstar who is deadly with the ball in his hands, just like Cordarrelle Patterson.

Last year, Kamara had his best season ever on the ground with 187 carries for 932 yards (5 yards per carry) and 16 touchdowns. Add in his 83 catches for 756 yards and five touchdowns, and his 1,688 yards from scrimmage and league-leading 21 total touchdowns were both career bests.

Taking that into account, it’s hard to suggest he’s slowing down at all. With Drew Brees gone, Kamara will be expected to help keep the offense humming along as Jameis Winston takes over. All signs point to him doing that, and he’ll likely have a lot of help from his 2016 UT teammate in wide receiver Marquez Callaway.

Next. All-time NFL Vols at each position. dark

Between Kamara and Callaway, New Orleans is becoming the king of Tennessee football steals. Shy Tuttle emerging is another one, and Bryce Thompson will likely emerge at defensive back despite being undrafted and not making the active roster this year due to injury. As a result, it’s fitting that a Saint tops this list.