Payton reveals Kamara was 28th-ranked player on Saints' draft board
It was nearly an entirely different scenario altogether, however, as the Saints came close to missing out on the standout running back during the 2017 NFL Draft.
In a profile by Bleacher Report's Dan Pompei, Payton revealed that Kamara was the 28th-ranked player on the Saints' draft board, but cornerback Marcus Williams, their 27th-ranked player, was still available at their No. 42 pick. New Orleans drafted Williams and had to engineer a trade with the San Francisco 49ers, sending a 2018 second-round pick and a 2017 seventh-rounder to draft Kamara 67th overall.
Payton revealed how he became enamored with Kamara after the youngster aced a workout on short notice.
"I said then, 'I've got to have that player,'" the head coach said. "And it has been a while since I felt that way about anyone."
Kamara is quickly emerging as a leading candidate to capture Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Splitting carries with Mark Ingram, the Saints have one of the most prolific running games in the NFL and lead the NFC South at 9-3 in large part due to the pair's exploits.
It would be easy to get frustrated with split duties, but Kamara is loving every minute of starring alongside Ingram.
"Whatever my role is, I'm going to play it," Kamara said. "If it turned into 'you got to get 30 carries,' I'm going to do it. But I feel you got to have two backs at least to be successful in this league. We have a good balance between me and Mark. It's been easy with me and him having the relationship we have and both being productive without any kind of friction between us."
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