The Lions addressed their defense with the third overall pick Thursday night in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. With the third pick in the second round Friday night, Lions general manager Bob Quinn turned to the offense with the selection of Georgia running back D’Andre Swift.
After being selected by the Lions, Swift took part in a conference call with local reporters where he said Lions Legend Barry Sanders was one of his favorite running backs of all time.
"First thing that comes to my mind is Barry Sanders," Swift said when asked about Detroit and the Lions. "One of my favorite backs of all time.
"Everybody always talked about (Sanders). I started watching film, watching highlights, and just looking at stats and they were remarkable, unbelievable, and as I got kind of older I tried to (emulate) my game to be like his any way possible. I just love watching him."
View photos of running back D'Andre Swift.
Friday's selection by Detroit didn't come as a surprise to Swift. He said he had more contact with the Lions in the pre-draft process than most teams. Quinn and the Lions obviously had their eyes on him early in the process.
Swift was one of the top backs in this class. He now gives Detroit a terrific one-two punch in their backfield alongside Kerryon Johnson, a fellow SEC alum and second-round pick out of Auburn in 2018.
Swift has quick feet and outstanding hands, and like Johnson, can be a three-down back because of what he offers a team in the passing game out of the backfield.
Swift rushed for at least 1,000 yards in each of his last two seasons for the Bulldogs. He totaled 1,218 yards and seven touchdowns on 196 carries (6.2 yards per attempt) this past season with another 24 catches for 216 yards (9.0 yards per catch) and a touchdown. He averaged better than 6.0 yards per carry in each of the last two seasons. His 6.6-yard average per rush over his Georgia career set a new school record previously held by Todd Gurley.
Swift is a patient runner with terrific short-area quickness and explosive home-run potential (4.48 speed). He has an uncanny ability to make defenders miss, and quarterback Matthew Stafford should like have having a back like him to pair with Johnson.
Swift said he knows a lot about Johnson from his SEC days, along with fellow Lions running back Bo Scarbrough, who played in the SEC at Alabama. Swift is excited to join forces in a mostly SEC backfield in Detroit in 2020.
The Lions ranked 21st in rushing last season (103.1 yards per game). A player like Swift, paired with Johnson, should help those numbers considerably for Detroit in 2020.
"I think just getting in space more," Swift said of something he's looking to show more of in the NFL. "Whether that be running routes in the slot. Just being able to use my abilities to really showcase my talents. I think I can do that a lot more as far as getting in space and just being a mismatch."
Since 2017, Swift ranked in the Top 25 in college football in yards per route run, passer rating when targeted, explosive receptions, missed tackles forced after the catch, yards per carry, yards after contact per attempt, and first down/touchdown percentage on rushes, per Pro Football Focus stats.
The Lions look to be getting an explosive weapon for their offense in Swift.