Free Press sports writer Dave Birkett breaks down why the Detroit Lions picked Georgia RB D’Andre Swift in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft.
Detroit Free Press
They got the best cornerback in the draft in Round 1, and they may have landed the draft’s best running back in Round 2.
The Detroit Lions opened the second round of the 2020 NFL draft Friday by taking Georgia running back D’Andre Swift with the 35th overall pick.
Instant grade: Lions get an A for drafting D’Andre Swift
Swift is the second running back off the board, but he’s considered a better pure runner than Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who went to the Kansas City Chiefs with the final pick of the first round on Thursday.
“God gave me a lot of ability just to do multiple things,” Swift said at the NFL combine in February. “My ability to pass catch, pass block, pass protect and just make something happen when there’s nothing there most of the time.”
The Lions finished 21st in the NFL in rushing last season and have not ranked in the top half of the NFL in that category since Barry Sanders’ final season in 1998.
Swift, who ran for 1,218 yards and seven touchdowns last fall, is the third running back the Lions have spent a second-round draft pick on in the last six years.
The Lions traded up to take Kerryon Johnson in the second round of the 2018 draft, and likely will pair him with Swift this fall. In 2015, the Lions drafted Ameer Abdullah, now with the Minnesota Vikings, in the second round.
[ Lions picked Georgia RB D’Andre Swift; these highlights show you why ]
Johnson has led the Lions in rushing each of the last two seasons and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry for his career. But the Auburn product has missed 14 games in his career with two different knee injuries..
Last year, he had 403 yards rushing on 113 carries.
Georgia Bulldogs running back D’Andre Swift (7) runs the ball against the LSU Tigers in the first quarter in the 2019 SEC Championship Game. (Photo: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
The Lions also return Bo Scarbrough and last year’s sixth-round pick, Ty Johnson, but entered the offseason with intentions of improving their backfield.
Swift, who joined Edwards-Helaire on the All-SEC first team, should do that. He’s the latest in a long line of talented Georgia running backs to reach the NFL, including Herschel Walker, Hall of Famer Terrell Davis, Todd Gurley and last year’s leading rusher, Nick Chubb.
As a true freshman, Swift ran for 618 yards while backing up Chubb and Sony Michel. He had 1,049 yards and 13 touchdowns, including three receiving, as a sophomore.
The Lions still have two third-round picks remaining, Nos. 67 and 85, and five picks on Day 3 of the draft Saturday.
On Thursday, they used the No. 3 pick to select Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah.
Contact Dave Birkett at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. Read more on the Detroit Lions and sign up for our Lions newsletter.