Swift has competition for ‘top back’ in NFL draft status

Former Georgia running back D'Andre Swift talks about his signature move while talking to the media at the NFL scouting combine. (Video by D. Orlando Ledbetter)

While Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor laid claim to the top running back in the draft, Georgia’s D’Andre Swift still has his supporters.

Taylor ran the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds and Swift ran it in 4.48 seconds, which is still blazing fast at the NFL scouting combine, which concluded Sunday.

“I have Swift as (Georgia’s) top player at running back,” NFL draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “He reminds me a lot of DeAngelo Williams when he was coming out. He's compact, but he’s got great patience, vision and quickness. He can really drop his shoulder and power through tackles. He’s the first-round back, to me, in this draft.”

Williams was drafted in the first-round of the 2006 draft by the Panthers. He played 11 seasons and went to one Pro Bowl while rushing for more than 1,000 yards in two seasons.

The Falcons heavily scouted the running backs, with at least 14 interviews, but Swift was not among them. He had visits with Buffalo and Miami.

“I’m a three-down back, and I can do whatever I’m asked to do,” Swift said. “God gave me a lot of ability. I don’t take that for granted. I work hard every day, and I’m a leader.”

The running back position is deep in this draft. Teams know they can find a quality running back in the third and fourth rounds.

“There are a lot of great backs in this class, but I think I’m the most versatile,” Swift said.

While at Georgia, Swift became the fifth running back in school history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.

He had 1,218 yards rushing and 216 receiving with a total of seven touchdowns last season. Those totals would have been much higher had Swift not been injured at the end of this season. He was limited to six touches and eight total plays in his final two games because of a bruised shoulder.

Swift left school with 2,885 yards rushing and 666 yards receiving. He ranks seventh on Georgia’s all-time rushing list, just behind Lars Tate (3,017) and just ahead of Knowshon Moreno (2,734).

Here’s a by the numbers look at Georgia junior running back D’Andre Swift.

He enjoyed his time in Athens.

“They allowed me to mature and put me in different situations,” Swift said.

Swift has a nice combination of speed and power.

“You’ve got to be tough,” Swift said when describing his running style. “You have to be willing to attack no matter who is coming through that hole. That’s part of the job. That’s what I signed up for. You (must) be ready at all times.”

Swift doesn’t pattern his game after any back in particular.

“I like watching a lot of backs,” Swift said. “I like watching Saquon (Barkley), all of the backs who came through Georgia. They are all doing a great job. I like watching Alvin Kamara and how they use him as well as Christian McCaffrey.”

Swift has answered questions about his durability last season and his ability to takeover games.

“That was one of the questions that people had,” said Swift, who likes to go bowling in his spare time. “I was put in that situation (numerous) amount of times last year. I think I succeeded in that situation. It was kind of fun showing everybody, the world, I really could do it.”

While at Georgia, Swift developed some peculiar workout habits.

“I would work out, and when everybody left, I would come back at like 1 or 2 in the morning and have someone come with me to throw me balls,” Swift said about his unique offseason habit.

The early morning workouts made sense to Swift.

“I’d catch myself sometimes staying up and I’d think: ‘Why not go try to get better, why not go do something to be better?’ ” Swift said. “I’m the kind of person, I’m never settling, I’m always looking to get better.”

Swift also showed leadership while at Georgia.

“When we lost to South Carolina, I asked coach (Kirby) Smart if I could address the team before the team meeting, and I told the guys what needed to be said,” Swift said.”When I would speak, they would listen. ... Because of how I carried myself on and off the field, I was looked at as a role model for the young guys, and somebody that was doing it right. So, when I talked, they would listen.”

Swift will enter the NFL with less wear on his legs than Taylor, who the Badgers ran as a workhorse back.

Swift had only 440 carries over his career, while Taylor had 926 carries over three season, averaging 309 carries per season.

Also, Swift caught 76 passes for 666 yards and five touchdowns. Taylor caught 42 passes for 407 yards and five touchdowns.

“He can step right in and provide early stability and production as an efficient, every-down back with offensive rookie of the year potential,” according to NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein.