The city the Saints call home is known for unexpected gifts. A piece of butterscotch hard candy with the purchase of a loaf of bread. A 13th donut. A set of beads tossed from a balcony.

Lagniappe, it calls this tradition.

And now to this city comes a running back from the depths of the draft, ramming through a would-be tackler one minute, jumping over another the next, catching a pass and putting a move on a helpless linebacker, outrunning a group of defenders to the end zone, leaping high into the stands at the Superdome.

Welcome to New Orleans, Alvin Kamara.

He is the front-runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year. He leads the NFL in yards per carry, with an average of 7.0. He leads the NFL in points scored by a non-kickers, with 68. With four games left to play, he has become only the third rookie in NFL history—and the first in 37 years—to have 600 rushing and 600 receiving yards.

As he returns to play his hometown team in Atlanta on Thursday—with "404" tattooed on his chest—Kamara has the 9-3 Saints in prime position to unseat the Falcons as NFC South champs.

What an unexpected gift he has been.

In New Orleans, you can wander down a cobblestone alleyway and stumble on an incredible restaurant that hardly anybody knows about. That's kind of how the Saints found Kamara.

Kamara began his college career at Alabama but was buried on the depth chart beneath Derrick Henry and others. He didn't stay long before transferring to Hutchinson Community College and then Tennessee. There, Jalen Hurd was the man in the backfield. In the last two seasons, Hurd had 189 more carries than Kamara even though Hurd played four fewer games. Kamara was typecast as a third-down back.