For the third time in six years, the Detroit Lions used a second-round selection on a running back. But will D’Andre Swift succeed where others have failed?
The Detroit Lions have been trying to get their rushing attack on point for years. Since Hall of Famer Barry Sanders retired back in 1999, the Lions have drafted numerous running backs who have tried to take his place in Motown … but none have come close to having his impact.
Names like Kevin Jones, Kevin Smith, Brian Calhoun, Jahvid Best, Mikel Leshoure, Theo Riddick, and others have come and gone, failing to meet those lofty expectations. All the while, the running game in Detroit has continued to lavish in mediocrity.
Yet, that hasn’t stopped the Lions from trying to find their next running game savior in the draft. In recent years, second-round selections have been spent to acquire running backs like Ameer Abdullah in 2015 and Kerryon Johnson in 2018. Abdullah is no longer on the roster after three underwhelming seasons in Detroit. And Johnson has missed a total of 14 games over the past two years due to injury.
In April, the Lions used their highest draft pick on a running back since 2010 to select Georgia’s D’Andre Swift, 35th overall, in the 2020 NFL Draft. For many, Swift was the top available prospect at his position in the entire draft class.
Here’s what former scout and NFL media analyst Daniel Jeremiah had to say about Swift, comparing him to a breakout rookie running back from last season.
"“Swift is a compact running back with excellent patience, vision and quickness. On inside runs, he lets things develop before exploding through the line of scrimmage. He has the vision to see and set up second- and third-level defenders … Overall, Swift has a similar skill set to Josh Jacobs, and I expect comparable results at the next level.”"
Josh Jacobs was selected in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, 24th overall, by the Oakland Raiders. As a rookie, he impressed last season racking up 1,150 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 4.8 yards per carry over 13 games. Jacobs was the first 1,000-yard rusher for the Raiders since 2015.
The biggest hurdle for Swift having a similar breakout performance in his rookie season will be his rushing attempts. Jacobs was given 242 carries in 2019, which was tied for 13th most in the league. The next closest Raiders’ running back in attempts was DeAndre Washington, who received 108 carries with three starts.
Heading into the 2020 NFL Season in Detroit, the carries figure to be a much-more equal split between Swift and Kerryon Johnson. And then there’s the rest of the depth chart to consider which includes running backs Bo Scarbrough, Ty Johnson, and rookie Jason Huntley.
As a junior at Georgia last season, D’Andre Swift rushed for 1,218 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games. He averaged an incredible 6.6 yards per carry over his three-year college career.