The Detroit Lions scored one of the most versatile weapons in the 2020 NFL Draft when they selected former Georgia running back D'Andre Swift with the No. 35 overall pick. With Kerryon Johnson back healthy this year, Matt Patricia and Co. didn't necessarily need to take a running back with one of their first picks, but it was hard to pass on the first-team All-SEC player who averaged 6.6 yards per carry during his time in Athens. Swift has been impressing so far in training camp, and one analyst believes that Detroit will use him like another NFL star who took the league by storm and won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award just a few seasons ago.
"I would expect them to use Swift like the Saints use (Alvin) Kamara," ESPN's Dan Orlovsky said, via MLive.com. "Put him on the field on first down and throw him the football. That's what the Saints do with Kamara. I just see them utilizing him as much as a pass-catching threat as he's going to be a run-commitment threat in the run game."
Swift racked up 3,551 yards from scrimmage during his three seasons at Georgia, but he didn't get many touches as a receiver. In 43 career games, he caught just 73 passes for 666 yards and five touchdowns. Swift averaged 9.1 yards per catch, but Georgia just did not prioritize him as a receiver, and it really infuriated Orlovsky.
"One of the things I would just flip out about on the broadcast is they didn't utilize him a lot as a pass-catcher," Orlovsky told MLive in a recent interview. "He is a very good route-runner, he has very good hands, and he has a very good understanding of space and body control when it comes to his route running."
Orlovsky, who was drafted by the Lions himself back in 2005, believes Swift was overlooked as a receiver in college, which is something Alvin Kamara can relate to. After a winding road which took him from the University of Alabama to Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, Kamara finally found some continuity at the University of Tennessee. Still, he was competing for touches with Jalen Hurd in the backfield, and was seen as more of a compliment player instead of a pillar of head coach Butch Jones' offensive attack. Kamara caught 74 passes for 683 yards and seven touchdowns in two seasons with the Volunteers, but still wasn't seen as a game-changing player an entire offense could revolve around.
That changed when Sean Payton and the Saints paid Kamara a visit in Knoxville. They worked Kamara out as a receiver, were impressed with what they saw and eventually took him with the No. 67 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. In his rookie season, Kamara caught 81 passes for 826 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 10.2 yards per reception, and took home the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
Swift's receiving stats in college may not turn heads, but his play on film will. He has the potential to be an even better pro than he was college star, but Patricia will have to give him touches in the passing game. It could mean a chance at NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.