In four years at Texas A&M, Ryan Swope caught 252 passes for 3,117 yards and 24 touchdowns. That included 161 catches for 2120 yards and 19 touchdowns during his junior and senior seasons. Still, Swope headed into the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine as something of an afterthought: a productive college player, more product of the system than playmaker.
And maybe those judge-a-book-by-its-cover assessments had something to do with Swope being white. Because after he busted out a 4.34 40 at the combine people suddenly started to re-evaluate the type of NFL player he could be.
Here's what NFLDraftScout.com's Dane Brugler wrote in his Risers and Fallers column following the combine, where he had Swope listed as his No. 2 riser.
Swope, who is the Aggies' all-time leader in career receptions, doesn't look like much at 6-0 and 205 pounds, but he showcased speed during combine drills that took everyone by surprise. He finished tied for second-best time in the 40-yard dash (4.34), not only among receivers but of any position. Swope plays quick and wastes little time accelerating with the ball in his hands, but he isn't known as a speedster who will easily separate with his natural athleticism. Talking to a scout after the wide receivers workouts, he told me "you could have given me 10 guesses to who would have run a sub-4.35 40 and Swope would have never crossed my lips."
During an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, Swope said what a lot of folks were thinking.
“I think a lot of people were pretty shocked. You don't see that every day, a white guy running a 4.3,” he said, via PFT.
So in much the same way people too lazy to put any real thought into such things would often compare Robert Griffin III to every athletic black quarterback (sorry, Byron) that came before him, Swope has already had to endure the predictable comparisons to other white receivers.
“I've been compared to (Wes) Welker,” he admitted. “I think that's a huge compliment because Welker's a great football player. … But I think people decide to make a white and white comparison.”
Actually, we're partial to this observation last November from SteelCityInsider.net's Jim Wexell.
@lake_21117 Swope reminded me of Ward. Best was beast yell when he caught pass, took blow to the head, and got up & roared in silent stadium— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) November 13, 2012
That would be Hines Ward. It's high praise and a welcome comparison for any aspiring NFL wideout.