In this installment of Rookie Roles, we look at the Detroit Lions’ second-round pick
In a series where we delve into the role the Detroit Lions 2020 rookies will play their new team, no rookie has had more controversial post-draft role discussion than the second-round running back out of Georgia, D’Andre Swift.
At 35th overall Swift is the highest Lions drafted running back since Jahvid Best’s 30th overall selection 10 years prior. So naturally, he comes with some expectations, and deservedly so.
Throughout the entire draft process, Swift was widely regarded as the top running back available. He didn’t put up the best numbers in the SEC, ranking fifth in yards per rush at 6.2 for running backs … but he did look the best. I’m a tape guy.
This is the section where I would normally highlight what rookie in question projects to do best in the NFL and/or the easiest path for the biggest impact on the team in year one. His niche at the next level. But Swift has more than one niche.
Yeah, he may be the most effective at the next level catches passes out of the backfield … but he’s also your best runner. Yeah, he’s probably better running it to the outside … but he’s also your best runner up the middle. Swift is probably the best option you have for any situation outside of short-yardage situations. A complete three-down back.
Projected Detroit Lions’ Role
The only real question regarding Swift’s role for the 2020 Lions is whether he’s going to see the majority of the snaps like a true number one running back … or will it depend on the gameplan like a true running back by committee.
Feels weird writing this, but the Lions have some other talent in the running back room beyond the new two-headed monster as well. Bo Scarbrough, Ty Johnson, and fellow rookie Jason Huntley (yes, I think Detroit keeps five running backs) all have something to contribute.
But let’s be honest, this is about Swift and Kerryon Johnson … and whether or not the rookie can be more productive than Johnson’s 1,044 rushing yards through his first two seasons. That’s it.
For me it’s pretty simple, I think the best of the bunch will not consistently get the bulk of the snaps, and I’m betting on that being Swift.