C Travis Swanson, Arkansas
C 6-5/312 5.28
College career: A solid prospect who persevered through going 3-9 overall and 0-8 in the SEC in 2013. He’s a natural center who took over the center position after red-shirting in 2009 and never gave it up, starting the last 50 games, all at center.
Scout’s quote from NFL.com: “Functional base in pass protection. Can work his hips and seal and execute combo blocks. Aware and alert -- good in-line reactions. Durable and battle-tested -- started all 50 games of his career and has experience locking horns with NFL-caliber defensive tackles. Highly respected two-time captain. Intelligent vocal leader with outstanding football character. Needs to bulk up his frame and get stronger.
Mike O’Hara’s take: Swanson follows the same path to the NFL that was taken by Larry Warford, a third-round pick last year from Kentucky who stepped in immediately and will be a fixture at right guard for the next center. Playing against SEC competition prepares offensive linemen for the NFL. Swanson is the eventual successor to Dominic Raiola.
Tim Twentyman’s take: The 50 games playing against SEC competition sticks out to me. He’s played the best and knows what it takes. I also like the fact that he’s 312 pounds. It allows him to play some guard if need be. The Lions can only dress 46 players on game day and they needed to add a player who could play both center and guard in a reserve role before taking over for Raiola fulltime in the future. The Lions really like his experience, just like they did with Larry Warford in the third round last year.
Player quote: “I think it’s crucial,” Swanson said of the 50-straight starts in the SEC. “You always hear a lot of people say the SEC, in a sense, is the minor league of the NFL. The durability that shows in 50 games, in what many people believe is the toughest conference in all of college football, I think that will help me tremendously in this transition period from college to the NFL.”