2020 NFL Draft Scouting Prospect Profile: D’Andre Swift, Georgia
When D’Andre Swift started his final season at Georgia, the dynasty fantasy football community expected him to be great. He was ranked as the consensus top overall player in “developmental” leagues (which are dynasty leagues in which you can already draft college players. Georgia’s running backs have even overtaken Alabama running back as the gold standard for where future NFL players come from. Sony Michel, Nick Chubb, Keith Marshall, Todd Gurley, and Isaiah Crowell were all Bulldogs and make up the starting backfield all the way until 2010. That sort of positional mystique definitely plays into the hype train behind Swift who many have ranked as the best fantasy football prospect in this years draft class.
D’Andre Swift Scouting Prospect Profile
The biggest wrinkle you will find in Swift’s profile is that he barely played as a true freshman because, well, he was in a backfield behind two future NFL stud running backs (relatively speaking) Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. He was a five-star recruit (as most of Georgia’s running backs will be) and was certainly expected to be handed the starting job for the Bulldogs eventually but he was not ever going to send Chubb and Michel to the bench. The 17 receptions as a true freshman are a positive indicator.
The 81 rushing attempts mostly came in blowouts but it is worth noting he had 88 yards and a touchdown against Auburn and 94 yards on only six carries against Mizzou as a true freshman. In 2018, he split carries with future NFL practice squad player Elijah Holyfield (son of the boxer). To me, this has to be considered a negative. If Holyfield was a clear success in the NFL, I would be more forgiving of the split but it takes Swift out of the “Can’t-miss” bucket of projections for a player. Holyfield and Swift both averaged exactly 6.4 yards per carry, though Swift was clearly the better pass catcher with 32 receptions which was third on the team overall. It is D’Andre Swift’s role in the passing game that has scouts and dynasty players most excited.
In his final season at Georgia, Swift racked up 196 carries for 1,218 yards while ceding 103 carries to Brian Herrien and 78 to Zamir White. In his college career, Swift topped 20 carries in a game only three times though he had seven games with four or more receptions. He handled 44% of the teams rushing attempts and scored 37% of the team’s rushing touchdowns in his final season. He also dipped down to only 24 receptions. Georgia was worse overall on offense without NFL players Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman, so that plays into his lack of efficiency.
In making a purely statistical case for Swift, you have a few issues. He averaged under 90 all-purpose yards per game for his career and was not ever a true Gurley/Michel/Chubb level workhorse though you can blame extenuating circumstances for that to some extent. Swift is a HUGE favorite of the “film watching” community so there is reason to think that his box scores don’t tell 100% of the tale.
Projecting D’Andre Swift To The NFL
As Swift doesn’t have the most pristine production resume (though again, it is not at all like he was BAD), the combine is going to matter for him. If he tests better than 75th percentile in agility score (3 cone + short shuttle) then I am going to have a hard time not considering him as the second running back in the class. It is a little controversial to assume that Jonathan Taylor is a better player than Swift or that Taylor will be drafted before Swift but that is the official RotoExperts stance as of right now. The allure of a high-pedigree back without much wear and tear who will be drafted highly and immediately expected to catch passes is a pretty awesome combination.
Travis Sikkema brings the film perspective on Swift by noting ” The total package at running back from an outlook stand point. Though not a power back by nature, he’s built well and can take contact strong. Along with adequate long speed, he is much more agile than you would expect from a player of his size. His quick feet match his quick decision making. Is always searching for space, and has good vision for it – in clutter and the open field. Is a down-and-distance versatile runner who has the potential to be a very reliable three down back in the NFL.“
Matt Waldman wrote in his Rookie Scouting Portfolio that ” Swift’s last name still applies to his job when applied to acceleration, stop-start movement, change-of-direction speed, and long-run stamina. If his full name was a complete reflection of his game, it would be “Hammer Catcher Swift,” because he’s a physical between-the-tackles runner with excellent hands out of the backfield and a swift-mover.”
The controversial stance of ranking Jonathan Taylor (and maybe even J.K Dobbins) over D’Andre Swift can be summarized like this: whichever team takes Jonathan Taylor is going to deploy him like a three-down running back for sure. There is a decent chance that Swift is used like a fancy version of Jalen Richard, at least the beginning of his career. While Swift probably has more Kamara-like upside than most running backs in the 2020 draft class, his floor due to a lack of true workhorse-level workload means that he is probably not the correct answer at the 1.01.