Since time heals most wounds, it’s probably only now coming back into focus for plenty of Detroit Lions’ fans what happened two months ago during the NFL Draft.
First, the team made the mildly controversial yet still understandable move to select tight end Eric Ebron with their first-round pick. Later, after selecting linebacker Kyle Van Noy, the team went with a bigger head-scratching pick in the eyes of many in round three, taking Arkansas center Travis Swanson over many other options.
With rookies reporting for duty Tuesday, everyone got the chance to remember Swanson’s name once again. The rookie is now facing a major learning curve, but admits he’s finally getting comfortable with his surroundings after some decent pressure early posed mostly by the unknown.
“I feel great now,” Swanson told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “That first week we came in here before starting OTAs, it was kind of like we were wide eyed and, ‘OK, what do we do? How do we act?’ Stuff like that. So it helped us that we had the OTAs and whatnot, and now you kind of have a feel going into it.”
Swanson will be facing double-duty during this camp. Not only will he be moonlighting with Dominic Raiola attempting to learn the craft of an NFL center, he will also be learning the guard position on the fly. That’s double the techniques and double the usual pressure a rookie can normally expect in July and August.
The fact that Swanson is getting comfortable will certainly help. Though he is likely slated to be a backup, Lions’ fans who remain frustrated by Swanson’s selection will be expecting contributions and results whenever he might be called upon this fall or next. Outside first round picks, pressure to perform quickly usually doesn’t find obscure members of the offensive line, but in Swanson’s case, it might.
In Swanson’s place, many believed the Lions could have selected a receiver, cornerback or safety and benefitted more immediately from their arrival. Instead, they made a move to try and infuse some more youth along the offensive line for the future. Whenever Swanson does see the field, he will face more pressure to justify his selection thanks to this fact, even if Detroit’s other positions round into form.
Quietly, the Lions will probably benefit from slowly developing Swanson, so patience will be key both now and through the next few seasons. That won’t stop many from expecting plenty of results from a player few were expecting to be on the radar so early last May, adding even more responsibility to the broad shoulders of a young man.