D’Andre Swift was graded as the top running back in this year’s draft but was the second one taken, going off the board early in Round 2 by Detroit. Here are Swift’s odds at Mybookie to win 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year as well as the Lions’ over/under win total.
The Lions selected Swift with the 35th pick of April’s draft. He just missed becoming the 10th all-time Georgia RB drafted in the 1st round — most recently Sony Michel (31st overall, 2018), Todd Gurley (10th overall, 2015) and Knowshon Moreno (12th overall, 2009).
As a freshman at Georgia in 2017, Swift was the third running back behind future NFL starters Nick Chubb and Michel. Swift played in all 15 games and was the team’s third-leading rusher with 618 yards and its fourth-leading receiver with 17 catches for 153 yards.
The following season, Swift split carries fairly evenly with Elijah Holyfield, though he was used more often as a receiver. Swift started five of 14 games and gained a team-high 1049 yards on 163 carries, with 10 TDs (also a team high). He went over the 100-yard mark in rushing in four of the last seven games.
As a junior, Swift was named second-team All-SEC and co-winner of the Vince Dooley Offensive MVP Award on the team. He carried 196 times for 1,218 yards and seven scores. Against Auburn, he became the fifth player in UGA history to have multiple 1,000-yard seasons and first since Chubb (2014, 16-17). Swift was limited significantly in season’s last two games because of a shoulder injury.
Swift was a key player on Georgia teams that won 11 or more games three straight seasons, won three straight SEC Eastern Division titles, and played in three straight New Year’s Six Bowl game (2018 Rose, 2019 Allstate Sugar, 2020 Allstate Sugar). He finished with 2,885 rushing yards for his career, good for seventh place on UGA’s all-time list.
According to Pro Football Focus, Swift ranked 49th in missed tackles per attempt last year. PFF speculated that Swift’s (5’8/212) lack of elusiveness could pose problems at the next level. In addition to his sub-par 0.20 missed tackles per rushing attempt, he also recorded just 0.16 missed tackles per reception which ranked 73rd in the country.
Swift isn’t particularly big and though he posted a 4.48 40-yard dash time at the combine, he isn’t a home run hitting back either. But he’s a good receiver out of the backfield and has been compared to Alvin Kamara. PFF charged Swift with only three dropped targets across 73 career receptions (and 9.1 yards per catch).
The Lions have a pretty good young back in Kerryon Johnson, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Swift has three-down upside but will begin his career competing for reps with Johnson, who figures to focus primarily on ball-carrying, with Swift busier in passing situations.
Coach Matt Patricia isn’t worried about which running back will be listed as the starter, hinting that both should receive consistent playing time. He mentioned Swift, Johnson, Bo Scarbrough, Wes Hills, Ty Johnson and fifth-round pick Jason Huntley as potential impact players at the position.
“For me, we’re going to try to play whoever is going to help us in that particular play, that particular game, whatever it might be,” he said. “If you’re out there for the very first play, or you get out there on the second play, I don’t really understand what the difference is in a starter in that case. … But, certainly, we’re excited to be able to acquire Swift and get him on our team and seeing what he can do. Sometimes you put two or three running backs out there. We will see what happens.”
Here’s what former New York Giants great Tiki Barber said when asked about Swift: “I like him. He’s a smaller back so I don’t think he’s going to get 200 or 300 carries, but I think he’s versatile and valuable and he’s tough.”