Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is a fan of new running back D’Andre Swift, and not just because the two share Bulldogs lineage having played their college ball at Georgia.
The fact that Swift did play three seasons at Georgia meant Stafford caught a lot of his games. Stafford said in a Zoom call with reporters Thursday that he's excited to add a player with Swift's abilities to the Lions' backfield.
"As a player goes, he's a back that can kind of do it all," Stafford said of Swift, who the Lions drafted in the second round (No. 35 overall) in last month's NFL Draft. "I think he does a good job out of the backfield catching the ball and making big plays. They handed it to him a bunch and he was doing a great job running with it."
As a true freshman at Georgia, Swift ran for 618 yards and three scores while backing up Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. He had 1,049 yards and 13 touchdowns (three receiving) as a sophomore, and ran for 1,218 yards and seven scores last season. His career average of 6.6 yards per rush is a Georgia school record.
With Stafford currently at his residence in Atlanta, he and Swift have been able to throw and work out together. That could end up being a huge plus for Swift in terms of gaining a comfort level with his quarterback – and more importantly for Stafford to gain more trust with his rookie. Whatever Swift can glean from Stafford's 11 years of experience in the league and knowledge of the Lions' offensive system should help Swift hit the ground running when the whole team gets together for workouts.
Swift joins Kerryon Johnson, Bo Scarbrough, Ty Johnson, rookie fifth-round pick Jason Huntley and Wes Hills in Detroit's backfield. Kerryon Johnson, who the Lions drafted in the second round out of Auburn a couple seasons ago, has been a productive three-down player the last couple years, when healthy, but two knee injuries have forced him to miss 14 games over last two seasons. Swift not only gives Detroit another playmaker in the backfield, but some depth in case of injury as well.
The Lions have never ranked in the top half of the league in rushing in any of Stafford's 11 seasons in the NFL. He's only ever had one 1,000-yard rusher behind him (Reggie Bush in 2012). Stafford knows an offense that can pressure a defense with the run game opens up so many more possibilities in the passing game.
"I think it's huge," Stafford said of the Lions adding Swift to their backfield. "In the NFL everybody, but especially running backs, get dinged up and beat up here and there throughout a season, and really throughout games. The more guys you can have back there that can carry the rock and do a good job for you the better off you're going to be."