D’Andre Swift to be the next Alvin Kamara? One former Detroit Lions quarterback turned analyst thinks it’s a great possibility.
The Detroit Lions shocked their fans when they opted to use a premium pick in the 2020 NFL draft on running back D’Andre Swift out of the University of Georgia. It wasn’t an expected choice, especially if the year prior had been any indication.
In 2019, general manager Bob Quinn and company used their second-round pick to go off the board, so to speak, to select linebacker Jahlani Tavai out of Hawaii with the 43rd overall pick. He’d been a player many of us hadn’t heard of but fit the mold of what head coach Matt Patricia expects as a linebacker in his system. A big-bodied, space-eating tackler. Tavai made six starts and played in 15 games for the Lions in his rookie year totaling 58 tackles, two sacks, one interception and forced one fumble. Not a terrible rookie campaign.
In 2020, the Lions choose cornerback Jeff Okudah with the third overall pick, and I expected the organization would continue the trend looking to bolster their awful defense with the 35th overall pick. The predictable choice was defensive end A.J. Epenesa, a big end that seemed like he fit Patricia’s style perfectly.
Detroit did have the pick of the litter if they decided to go in that direction because, along with Epenesa, Yetor Gross-Matos out of Penn State had also been available. If Detroit hoped to land an interior lineman to help fill the void left by Damon Harrison, Ross Blacklock and Marlon Davidson had both yet to be selected.
Instead, Quinn chose the ever-so-talented Swift. Here’s what former Detroit Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky recently said in an article published by MLive.com;
“One of the things I would just flip out about on the broadcast is they didn’t utilize him a lot as a pass-catcher,” Orlovsky told MLive in a recent interview. “He is a very good route-runner, he has very good hands, and he has a very good understanding of space and body control when it comes to his route running.”
“I would expect them to use Swift like the Saints use Kamara,” Orlovsky said. “Put him on the field on first down and throw him the football. That’s what the Saints do with Kamara. I just see them utilizing him as much as a pass-catching threat as he’s going to be a run-commitment threat in the run game.”
Swift had been buried on the Bulldogs depth chart for the first couple of seasons’ behind the likes of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb but still posted eye-popping numbers sharing the football. Last season as a junior, though, Swift excelled, displaying a beautiful mix of burst, power, and wiggle as the club’s primary ball-handler.
As a junior, Swift amassed 1,218 rushing yards on 196 totes, good for an average of 6.2 yards per carry. Swift scored seven rushing touchdowns and added one more receiving score. As Orlovsky mentioned, Georgia didn’t go out of their way to get Swift the football in the passing game, but he did make 24 receptions last season totaling 216 yards.
The year prior, Swift caught 32 passes totaling 297 yards and three touchdowns. Swift averaged nine or more yards per reception in each of his three collegiate seasons, so it’s not a ‘hot-take’ to think he will play a significant role in the passing game this season for the Lions. It’s excellent analysis from the former Lion.
The 5-foot-8 stout back to me resembles future Hall of Famer Frank Gore in skill and stature. Many remember the Gore we see today in his later years, but he was a dynamic dual-threat when he entered the league. In Gore’s first season as a starting running back, he galloped for 1,695 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns. He also added 61 receptions that accounted for 485 receiving yards and a score.
During Gore’s first five years as a starter (years two through six), he averaged 1,161 rushing yards and 6.4 rushing touchdowns per season. He also averaged 430 receiving yards and nearly two additional scores per season in the passing-game while maintaining a stellar catch rate of almost 70%. Gore’s secured an 8.3 yards per reception average throughout his career. I see more Gore in Swift than Kamara, but either will work out wonderfully though for Detroit.
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Don’t be surprised if this is the type of production the Detroit Lions see from D’Andre Swift over the next four or five seasons.