Comparing Travis Swanson and Graham Glasgow


Swanson Vs. Glasgow: The battle for starting center

The Lions made an obvious attempt to upgrade their offensive line in this year’s NFL Draft. With the 32nd-ranked rushing offense, it was clear the team needed to make some moves to improve on that run game, as well as helping protect quarterback Matthew Stafford. Drafting offensive tackle Taylor Decker in the 1st-round was expected, but fans were surprised when the team selected Graham Glasgow, center out of the University of Michigan, in the 3rd-round.

The Lions certainly needed better play from the center position, but most thought 2014 3rd-round pick, Travis Swanson, would be given another year as the starter. Glasgow’s presence doesn’t mean Swanson’s time is up, it just means the Lions wanted to have a viable alternative if Swanson doesn’t appear to be the long-term guy. Since Swanson and Glasgow will be battling it out, I thought it would be a good time to examine both players as we head into training camp this week.

Travis Swanson

Travis Swanson will have to show improvement to keep his starting center job. Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

Size: 6-foot-5, 312 lbs

Strengths: Good athleticism and mobility. Smart player with good work ethic and durability. Better in pass-protection than in the running game but solid all-around player. Definitely more suited for zone-blocking schemes where he can utilize his quickness. Good character guy.

Weaknesses:  Swanson has most of the tools you look for except elite power needed for the NFL game. Decent versatility but doesn’t have the strength to be a true guard. Although he has good knowledge and awareness, as Lions fans witnessed last season, he too often gets bowled over by bigger nose tackles and defensive lineman. Not a great fit for man blocking schemes.

Graham Glasgow

The Lions added Graham Glasgow in the 3rd-round of the draft. Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

Size: 6-foot-6, 307 lbs

Strengths:  Physical lineman with great versatility to play all three interior line positions. Strong base and lower body helps him at the point of attack. He’s athletic enough to play in a zone-blocking scheme and has the strength to thrive in a man scheme as well.  Big enough to handle larger defensive tackles up the middle.

Weaknesses: Not a great athlete. Second-level blocking needs some work. Hand technique can be rough. Off-the-field issues raised some concerns earlier in his college career.  He’s got enough power to make up for his lack of athletic ability. Sometimes gets lost in pass-blocking but improved greatly under coach Harbaugh. Not a for sure starter, but in the right scheme could be a very effective player down the line, according to Mike Mayock.

Battle analysis: Both have a ways to go before they are dominant starting offensive lineman. Glasgow is better suited for what the Lions want to do on the offensive line. However, Swanson has more experience and should be much stronger entering his 3rd-season than he was coming into the league. Glasgow seems like a better fit but Swanson’s experience could be more important on a young line. My guess is that Swanson wins the battle out of training camp, but Glasgow is the more likely long-term answer at center. Should be one of the best battles in training camp.