Which NFC South running back is more elusive than the other?
By: Jeremy Trottier
The 2017 NFL Draft class brought one of the most potently talented running back groups to the NFL, and honestly it may be the best ever with the way things have developed. Just to list the primary ones, we have:
- Christian McCaffrey
- Alvin Kamara
- Dalvin Cook
- Joe Mixon
- Aaron Jones
- Chris Carson
- Kareem Hunt
- Austin Ekeler
- Leonard Fournette
- James Conner
- Tarik Cohen
The list continues on for a while after that too, like Marlon Mack, Wayne Gallman, Matt Breida, and Corey Clement. However in this article we will only be looking at two of these backs for comparison, Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints and Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers.
The primary focus of this piece will to be delve into these two players, and their ability to create an elusiveness of sorts on the field. They both do it in different ways, hence why it will be broken into two different sections, one for each player.
Alvin Kamara ”“ New Orleans Saints
Alvin Kamara’s elusiveness is all about being “slippery” per say, using his core strength and center of balance to break off tackles and keep them away from the ball. His extremely high level of balance is another key factor, as it allows him to take defenders and pull them off just by running, shedding them is likely the best word for it.
As you can see, his core balance and ability to plant himself allows him to stop and let the defender slide before running the opposite direction to pull him off. These types of plays have been pretty consistent throughout Kamara’s career, which is why he is so elusive. If you cannot keep your hands on him long enough to make a tackle, then its practically like not being able to touch him at all. His elusiveness is purely based on being able to get tacklers off him without exerting too much force, this allows him to break off huge chunks of yards at a time even after contact.
Christian McCaffrey ”“ Carolina Panthers
The elusiveness of Christian McCaffrey is a little more subtle, however relatively in the same ballpark of effectiveness. Where Kamara lacks in stutter steps and juke moves, McCaffrey dominates in them. Since CMC is heavily targeted in screen passes, his ability to avoid contact all together is his strength.
This is kind of why he has injury issues however, as when he does take heavy contact he may be forced to break stride, which can cause him to get hurt trying to force something that is not there. However it prevents the direct contact injuries that someone like Derrick Henry may get just from blunt force of defenders being taken on.
To date, both of these backs are considered to be some of the best in the league undoubtedly. With that said, Alvin Kamara has only missed four full games in his career so far, compared to Christian McCaffrey missing 13 (all last year, however). Both of these players have their own strengths and are probably two of the top elusiveness-based backs to grace the field. Banking on the fact that Kamara has had fewer injuries, or at least less severe ones, his elusiveness prevails as he is able to take on contact and prevent any issues from arising.