Lions eager to watch Travis Swanson's progression

Posted Jan 23, 2015

According to general manager Martin Mayhew, it's important for Travis Swanson to show the same type of improvement he showed last year.

MOBILE, Ala. – In a conference call with reporters this week, Dominic Raiola said the Lions are in great hands at center with Travis Swanson.  Raiola was informed last week by Lions brass that he wouldn’t be back next year for a 15th season.

The Lions drafted Swanson in the third round of last year’s NFL Draft to be their center of the future. He started 50 games in the SEC for Arkansas and the Lions liked his intelligence and experience.

Travis SwansonTravis Swanson (Photo: Detroit Lions)

He was pressed into full-time duty sooner than they would have liked due to injury and suspension this past season. But in the end, the four games he started at guard, and the one at center, will help ease his transition into a role this offseason where he’ll compete to be the first Lions center to start a season not named Raiola in 14 years.

“I thought he made good progress last year,” said Lions general manager Martin Mayhew at the Senior Bowl. “I think this is a really important offseason for him, obviously. He’s going to have an opportunity to get in there and compete for that job at center.”

Swanson improved dramatically as the year went on. When forced into a starting role against the Cardinals after right guard Larry Warford went down with a knee injury the week prior, Swanson struggled in the run blocking department and gave up a quarterback hit and quarterback hurry in Arizona, according to Pro Football Focus.

But the numbers improved every subsequent start for Swanson. In his final two starts of the season – Week 17 in Green Bay (center) and the playoff game in Dallas (right guard) – Swanson finished each of those games with a positive grade from PFF and gave up just one quarterback hurry combined.

“I think it’s important this offseason that he continues to show the same type of improvement he showed last year,” Mayhew said.

“There’s nothing promised to anybody, but I’m excited about the potential that he showed last year with his ability to get into some games, finish some games for us and start some games for us at guard and one game at center. But he’s got a ways to go in terms of being a great player in this league.”