Lions running back D’Andre Swift named a top-25 rookie

D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions (Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports)
D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions (Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Detroit Lions found themselves a gem in the second round of the 2020 draft

When the Detroit Lions‘ number was called in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, they discovered an unexpected surprise. With the 35th overall selection, the Lions found Georgia running back D’Andre Swift was still on the board. And they pulled the trigger.

Only two years prior the Lions used their second-round pick on another running back, Kerryon Johnson out of Auburn. Despite showing flashes of potential, Johnson struggled with injuries in his first two seasons, missing a total of 14 games in that span.

So the addition of Swift not only gave the Lions another talented playmaker in the offensive backfield, but it provided the team some insurance in case the injury trend continued to plague Johnson’s young career.

Unfortunately, a lack of a true offseason training program combined with a hip injury limited Swift’s impact to start his first season. The Lions also unexpectedly signed veteran Adrian Peterson to become the team’s starting running back.

It all resulted in Swift not receiving double-digit carries until Week Six. But when he did, the 21-year old posted a season-high 116 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns on 14 carries in a 34-16 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Eventually Swift took over the starting role from Peterson, getting the nod in four of the final five games he played this past season. He ended his rookie year posting 521 rushing yards and eight touchdowns while averaging 4.6 yards per carry. The versatile Swift also brought in 46 receptions for 357 yards and two scores through the air.

Here’s what former NFL scout turned NFL Media analyst, Daniel Jeremiah, wrote on the league’s official website this past week after ranking Swift 22nd on his Top 25 Rookie Ranking.

"“Swift earned more playing time and touches as the season went on, and he displayed his explosiveness as a runner and receiver. This is a nice piece for the new regime to build around.”"

Peterson led the Lions with 604 rushing yards and seven touchdowns as a 10-game starter in 2020. But turning 36-years old this year, the 14-year veteran is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March. And with the emergence of Swift plus Johnson entering the final year of his rookie contract in Detroit, Peterson isn’t expected to return to Motown.

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And despite the team’s current lack of a head coach and general manager, D’Andre Swift figures to be the Week One starter for the Detroit Lions in 2021. And based on his performance as a rookie, it appears the Motor City could finally have their first 1,000-yard rusher since former running back Reggie Bush back in 2013.