D’Andre Swift is the next star Georgia RB
Georgia has been a melting pot of running backs. Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb, Herschel Walker, Sony Michel, and more have walked onto the field in Athens. Now, that the torch of that tradition is firmly in the hands of star junior D’Andre Swift. Even in a loaded backfield with Chubb, Michel, and Elijah Holyfield, Swift stood out as someone who had the chance to be special. Swift can change the game in one play, and he is a dynamic receiver out of the backfield. Everything about Swift screams modern NFL running back, and that is why everyone was salivating to watch him take off with a large role last season. He looked like a potential star.
Swift’s play on the field has driven his hype up the wall. So does being part of that rich history. Swift has some legitimate doubt about his game, but it seems that he is a consensus top-three running back in the draft regardless of what you think of him or what perspective you are looking at him from. At this point, it seems Swift has an immense amount of pressure to live up to the hype.
I dove fully into Swift’s statistics and tape to see if the consensus was really true, or if this was a case of everyone just being a bit too trigger happy.
Name: D’Andre Swift
Position: Running Back
Weight: 215 lbs
Swift came out of the prestigious Pennsylvania high school of St. Joseph’s Prep, which has produced NFL talent such as Rich Gannon before. It is a school that is consistently in the running for state championships every year in a competitive state. Swift led his team there and brought home a championship.
He rushed for 1,564 yards and 25 touchdowns en route to that state title as a senior. Swift was the top prospect in Pennsylvania for the class of 2017 and the pulls of Penn State were strong. His decision came largely down to what he felt was the best fit for his game, and he chose Georgia for that reason. As such, he walked into an already loaded backfield but pushed for snaps as a freshman simply because he was that talented. Swift had 681 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 81 attempts, plus 17 receptions for 153 yards and a touchdown. He did that all with Holyfield, Chubb, and Michel in the same backfield.
Then, in his Sophomore year, with only Holyfield still left, Swift had 1,049 yards and 10 touchdowns on 163 rushing attempts, plus another 253 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 32 receptions. Kirby Smart and Georgia have made a conscious effort to not ‘run their running backs into the ground’ as he puts it. Thus, in many ways, Swift’s usage was far less than it could have, but on the other end of it, the tread on his tires are not nearly as bad as they would have been if he had been the workhorse back. In many ways, that actually has the arrow pointing up for Swift, who should get a similar workload this year.
The Tale of the Tape
When I say Swift has exceptional tape, I really do mean that. I will get this right out of the way, but I personally have D’Andre Swift as RB1 pretty comfortably. Are there flaws to his game? Yes, there are a few minor things. However, Swift is the epitome of a modern NFL running back. That alone should excite everyone right away. Guys that are dual-threated routinely are great fantasy valves and top producers at the next level.
D’Andre Swift is such an effortless receiving back. Good ball tracking over the shoulder and an easy feel for what to do in the open field. Nice touch by Fromm too. pic.twitter.com/gkn3KiKcJ1
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) July 6, 2019
When you are scouting running backs receiving ability, the ease of making catches is one of the most important things to look at. Swift has the graceful effortless look that you love to see out of backs, but this play especially a few things are incredibly impressive. It is a simple swing route, yes, but Swift flattens this out and back out towards the sideline. It is incredibly subtle but so important. He avoids a chip from the Defensive Back covering him and instead essentially stacks him if this ball is on the money from Jake Fromm.
This is a great job of ball-tracking and accelerating through the catch by Swift. A lot of receivers have trouble adjusting to throws like this over the shoulder because they tend to slow and not run through it, which does not maximize yards after the catch. He then catches it away from his body and quickly pulls it in just in case the defensive back is lurking behind him. And as I said, he runs through this catch and just hits the burners and goes. That is natural, effortless receiving ability from a running back. You love to see this stuff.
Contact Balance and Vision
D’Andre Swift’s contact balance is fantastic. Everything he does looks so effortless. pic.twitter.com/8ddmgAbYKZ
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) July 5, 2019
Perhaps the only thing worse than a running back who can not catch in the modern NFL is a running back that goes down on the first contact. D’Andre Swift has zero trouble staying up and beating guys in one-on-one situations. It is partially due to highly muscular legs and a really strong center of gravity, but it is also great tenacity and leg drive.
There is a certain tenacity to his running style that simply is not replicated very easily. However, here, a stiff arm to shove a guy away from his upper body and the quick feet and strong center of gravity allow Swift to run right through these attempted tackles on his way to a huge gain down the sideline.
Still, even more important is the vision to read the blitzing inside linebacker. Pressing the line and creating yards for yourself is just as important as making them for yourself after contact. Swift gets the handoff, takes two steps towards the line and bolts. He baited the blitzing defender right down into his blockers and gave himself a shot to win outside. Vision and contact balance often go together for that simple reason that you are creating so you can win one-on-one. Swift does an excellent job at that.
Cutting Ability and Footwork
D’Andre Swift’s cutting ability and footwork are fantastic. He’s a great RB. pic.twitter.com/8WrUYODf3L
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) June 17, 2019
Swift’s cutting ability and footwork are his best traits, period. I alluded to those quick feet and relentless feet with contact balance, but these are also efficient feet. All it takes is one turn and he explodes through it to accelerate once again. It is great athleticism and that is why he is able to make sharp cuts so effortlessly. Notice how his first cut is just to stick his foot in the dirt, turn and accelerate through. So simple, effective, and efficient. That is the epitome of great footwork.
However, there is also the ability to cut, re-accelerate, and do those moves in succession. If you want to make big plays in the open field in the NFL, you have to be able to do all of those three things. Swift’s footwork allows him to take advantage of his great short-area burst and continue to cut or execute any open field move he wishes to extend the run. Not many guys can truly do that.
D’Andre Swift is so good. Little stutter step to allow his lineman to climb and seal and he’s off. Patience and vision can do wonders for RBs, Swift epitomizes that. pic.twitter.com/uVBCJqQQu1
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) July 12, 2019
Now, a few things in addition to athleticism here, especially long speed, is that Swift shows off that footwork to let blocks set up. Patience is something that Le’Veon Bell popularized, and Swift has that exact pattern of patience to allow these blocks to set up.
However, since we have no testing numbers on Swift, there is only tape to really judge this. First off, Swift is an explosive athlete. His ability to explode through the short area is fantastic. He got past his lineman reaching to the second level in no time at all. That is some very good explosion through the hole to do that.
As for long speed, Swift’s is not necessarily elite. He is not going to run in the 4.3s, but I absolutely think this could be a 4.45 type of guy. It is still more than enough to be a big-play producer in the NFL and should impress teams more than enough for what he needs. Swift’s long speed is fine.
Swift has some of the most impressive statistics I have seen this draft cycle among this running back class. Yes, he had limited usage, but his production in that limited situation is something to really marvel at honestly. 4.24 yards after contact on average was sixth. 634 of his 1.049 yards were after contact as well. If you want a guy that can stay up, break tackles, and then bust big plays, Swift is absolutely the guy. He forced 37 missed tackles as well, per Pro Football Focus on top of all of that. That is a great number to see if you want to know that Swift is one of the better running backs in this class.
He also had 38 explosive runs, meaning Swift is a guy who breaks tackles, makes big plays out of those avoided tackles, and then, as a bevy to add on, can catch extremely well out of the backfield. For what it is worth, Swift only has one drop in his college career to date, so that natural receiving ability we dscussed shows up on the stat sheet too. He is as sure-handed as they come.
Simple as it is, you know what you are going to get with D’Andre Swift. A dual-threat, athletic running back that can make big plays. That is something every single fantasy team would want. I see no reason why that should not translate to the NFL. The tape shows it and the stats back it up. Swift is a great running back prospect to go and get your hands on.
For NFL teams, there is no doubt that Swift is going to be a consensus top-three running back. He fits the exact mold of the modern back that they look for — natural receiving ability, big play ability, and the ability to create for themselves before and after contact. All in all, Swift is ready to be the next star NFL running back to grace Athens, Georgia.
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