Detroit Lions: D’Andre Swift will drive Kerryon Johnson to be at his best

(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

Matthew Stafford is thrilled to have a player like D’Andre Swift in the Detroit Lions backfield in 2020.  Can you blame him?  Swift will be the best Lions tailback since the legendary Barry Sanders.

The Detroit Lions used the 35th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, their second pick on Georgia’s ‘do it all’ running back D’Andre Swift.  Ironically both Swift and quarterback Matthew Stafford wore number seven for the Bulldogs during their stay in Georgia.

Since Swift played for Stafford’s Bulldogs in college, Matthew has had plenty of time to watch the talented back perform at the college level.  It begs one to ponder, did Stafford have any pull in Detroit’s decision to pick Swift over J.K. Dobbins or Jonathan Taylor?  Unlikely, but you never know.

Swift had a tremendous college career, especially when you consider he was buried on the Bulldogs depth chart behind the likes of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb before he solidified himself as the lead back in back-to-back seasons.

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As a junior, Swift carried the football a career-high 196 times totaling 1218 yards and seven rushing touchdowns.  The talented runner chipped in with 24 receptions totaling 216 receiving yards and a touchdown.

It was a stellar performance following up a spectacular sophomore season where Swift amassed 1049 rushing yards and ten touchdowns.  Over his three-year career with the Bulldogs Swift recorded 2885 rushing yards on 440 totes, scoring 20 touchdowns.  To go with that, Swift corraled 73 receptions adding 666 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

Forget about the total yardage, but when you compare the workload to both Dobbins and Taylor, the pick will make more sense to everyone.  Taylor carried the ball a whopping 926 times in his three-year career with the Wisconsin Badgers, more than double the rushes than Swift.  In three seasons with Ohio State, Dobbins rushed the football 725 times, not quite double, but a heck of a lot more than the 440 Swift accumulated.

A running back only has so many carries in their body; if you feel that the talent levels are all similar, it’s wise to choose the player with the lowest wear and tear on their body.  Imagine car shopping.  If you are choosing between three vehicles of similar fondness, aren’t you going to buy the one with the lowest amount of miles on it?  Sure you are, the same goes for running backs.

Swift will join Kerryon Johnson in the Detroit Lions backfield.  Drafting Swift may light a fire under Johnson; he’s struggled to remain healthy during his first two professional seasons playing in just 18 of a possible 32 games.

In the two seasons, Johnson has amassed 1044 yards on 231 carries, which equals 4.5 yards per carry.  Johnson has made 42 catches totaling 340 yards and two touchdowns.  It’s a duo that has the potential to do plenty of damage together in the same backfield.

I expect Swift will eventually separate himself as the Detroit Lions lead back, but until then, enjoy the pair working together, motivating one another, and most importantly, sparing each other a heavy workload that the organization will be able to spread out between the two of them.

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Hopefully, adding Swift will allow the Lions to limit the workload of both backs, hopefully preserving the health of both.