Lions draft center of the future in Travis Swanson

Posted May 9, 2014

The Lions were on the lookout for their center of the future and found him in the third round of the draft Friday night in former Arkansas center Travis Swanson.

One of the things the Lions liked most about guard Larry Warford in the third round of last year’s draft was the fact that he’d started 37 consecutive games in the toughest conference in college football – the SEC.
Travis SwansonC Travis Swanson (Photo: AP Images)

Similarly, it’s one of the things the Lions like most about former Arkansas center Travis Swanson, who they drafted in the third round (No. 76 overall) Friday night.

He started 50 consecutive games for the Razorbacks, which tied the school record.

“He’s got a lot of starts against really good competition,” Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said. “That usually bodes well for guys early, gives those guys confidence when they get here, so that’s definitely a factor.”

A heady player, Swanson was just the 11th player in school history to be a two-time captain.

In his last 24 games, Swanson had the highest blocking consistency grade for any active offensive lineman in college football (90 percent).

Dominic Raiola is coming off probably his best season as a professional in 2013, but he is 35 years old and the Lions need to start thinking about the future.

In the short term, NFL rules mandate that teams can only dress 46 players on game day. Before the drafting of Swanson, the Lions didn’t have a swing player who could play both center and guard.

“The biggest thing I will focus on is to learn as much as I can,” Swanson said in a conference call. “I want to contribute whether that’s at center or guard. I am just going to come into work every single day and I know if I do that each day then it will take care of itself.”