Analyst Explains What Lions Running Backs Must Work On

D'Andre Swift

Getty D'Andre Swift runs against Florida.

The Detroit Lions picked up running back D’Andre Swift during the 2020 NFL Draft, and most figure he will be able to help turn around a sagging ground game himself.

Kerryon Johnson is already in Detroit, but if there is one thing the duo share in common, it’s the fact that each have struggled with regards to being elusive. Recently, Pro Football Focus revealed their elusiveness ratings for 2020 and Johnson didn’t show up on the list. Swift did, but it wasn’t in the position that many might assume.

Swift rated No. 5 overall in his draft class in terms of elusiveness. It might not sound that bad, but it was last in terms of all the other players from the class. Writer Ben Linsey explained what he brings to the table, and admitted that there is some things for the rookie to work on in between the tackles:

“Swift ended the pre-draft process as our RB1 in the 2020 Draft Guide, but during the 2019 season, he forced a missed tackle on under 20% of his touches while the other four rookies projected to earn the lion’s share of touches on their teams next season all put up marks above 26%. His route-running ability and natural hands should make him an ideal receiver for the running back position early on, but his broken tackle rates at Georgia signal he has some work to do at making guys miss once the ball is in his hands.”

Obviously, the Lions won’t care if Johnson and Swift aren’t elusive providing they can get the job done running the ball, but their tandem might not be the most elusive in the league with this concerned. The good news? It’s something that can be fixed and can change year to year. For right now, though, don’t plan on the duo breaking many tackles according to the metrics in 2020.

Lions Needed Running Backs

Detroit has a solid player on their team currently in Kerryon Johnson that they are developing. Johnson, however, has run into a few issues with injuries the last few years, so the team was looking for someone else that can be a solid running mate for Johnson moving forward. On the roster, Bo Scarbrough showed late last season that he could be a potential answer for the team, but still, the Lions were looking for someone else to build around. That’s why they felt as if they may want to target the draft, which is where Swift came in. The team could also look to free agency for another veteran running back, but now it seems as if the team is happy with what they have done to upgrade the backfield with the right amount of youth.

Now that the Lions have managed to add another running back and some pounding offensive linemen, the team is seemingly on the right track toward fixing one of their biggest problems of the last few years. It’s something the analysts see and can agree on.

It’s clear this duo can work hard to make each other as well as the Lions better. That’s the likely goal for both, no matter what some stats might say about what either might do on the field.

Lions Credited For D’Andre Swift Addition

Following the draft finishing up, Gregg Rosenthal of took a look at some of the biggest themes from every team’s performance. When it came to the Lions, it was obvious there was a serious theme and it had everything to do with getting tougher in the trenches and improving what has been a severely weak running game.

Rosenthal wrote:

“From the selection of running back D’Andre Swift this year and Kerryon Johnson in 2018 to the interior line picks that GM Bob Quinn has made in the last few years, the Lions have invested a lot of capital in improving their running game — but they have yet to see great results. Quinn needs that vision to come together this season. Swift is the type of talent who can put the team’s running game over the top.”

With Kerryon Johnson, Bo Scarbrough and now D’Andre Swift, the Lions have a loaded backfield of former SEC standouts. More than that, the team was able to add guards to their stable in Jonah Jackson as well as Logan Stenberg, affectionately known as “Mr. Nasty.” Those players will try and change the narrative that the team simply can’t run the ball. If a ground game is like a mindset, the Lions have changed their mind more than a bit.

Following the draft, general manager Bob Quinn admitted that his team wants to change how they are viewed and get more physical up front. That will now be the goal heading into 2020.

D’Andre Swift Stats

Arguably the best runner on the board and a player who many figured would go off the board in the first round, Swift is a hard charging back out of Georgia who was tough in his career playing in the SEC. With 2,885 yards and 20 touchdowns in his career, there is little doubting how well Swift would do at toting the rock and fitting in well within Detroit’s backfield situation.

Swift coming from the SEC will be huge for him in terms of being able to fit in seamlessly to the team. Georgia has put a lot of great runners into the league lately, and the hope for Swift is that he can join the squad and become the next runner that follows in the footsteps of players like Todd Gurley, Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. All of them have become great, and Swift could be next. He could help Detroit’s ground game over the top in the process.

Regardless of how elusive he or Johnson truly are, that could be the case in 2020.

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