The Philadelphia Eagles pounced on the opportunity to acquire D’Andre Swift not too long after it became clear the Philly native was available. Was the trade a big win for the Birds? Or is there some cause for pause?
1 - How would you recap Swift’s time with the Lions?
If I could put D’Andre Swift’s time with the Lions into a single word, it would be “hopeful.” Fans were continuously hopeful that Swift would more consistently show up as the explosive, all-purpose back they drafted early in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Instead, Swift’s pro career has been marred by his inability to stay on the field. But the glimpses you get from Swift, the moments where he does something special, they leave you hoping he can do that on a more consistent basis.
2 - How do Lions fans feel about the trade? How would you grade the deal for Detroit’s sake?
It’s been characterized by many as a win-win scenario for both teams, and that sounds about right to me. Swift being a Philly native and the Eagles in the market for another runner to help replace Miles Sanders makes sense for Philadelphia. With the Lions drafting Swift’s replacement in Jahmyr Gibbs 12th overall in this year’s draft, and having signed his complementary back in David Montgomery in free agency, Detroit feels like they have one of the best running back duos in the NFL. Getting a future fourth-round pick in return for Swift, a player entering the final year of his rookie deal, feels like a solid ‘B’ for the Lions.
3 - What are his strengths?
Swift is dynamic as they come, capable of playing on all three downs given his ability as a runner, receiver, and his improvement as a pass-blocker last season. Once he has the ball in his hands, Swift’s agility as a runner can make people miss at the tackle point, making him an explosive play waiting to happen.
4 - What are his weaknesses?
The greatest ability is availability, and Swift’s struggles to stay on the field have made him incredibly difficult to count on week to week. It’s easily his biggest hurdle to overcome, but if he can keep his body right, Swift is still capable of being a difference maker. Outside of that, Swift’s vision as a ball carrier can leave a lot of proverbial meat on the bone, and it’s something former Lions running backs coach Duce Staley would get on him about often. And as a pass-catcher, Swift is pretty limited to working around the line of scrimmage rather than downfield.
5 - Anything to know about him off the field?
Swift was a pretty quiet character in Detroit. He showed up, did his business on the field, and never really provided much in terms of sound bites. Whether that was a product of him arriving in Detroit during the Matt Patricia era or not, I’m not sure, but Swift generally kept to himself and did what was asked of him.
BLG’s take: At the time of the Swift trade, I wrote that I felt like I was lower on it than others. It’s not that I think it was a bad move. It’s just that I don’t think it’s the absolute home run that some have made it out to be. Closer to a ‘B’ grade to me than an ‘A+’ since the Eagles gave up a fourth-round pick for an inconsistent player on the last year of his contract at the most fungible position in the league. Swift’s upside is certainly intriguing; one can envision him reaching his ceiling and having a season like Miles Sanders did last year. He figures to benefit from playing with a mobile quarterback like Jalen Hurts as opposed to a statue like Jared Goff. But there’s also a path where nagging injuries continue to hold Swift back and his touches are limited in a heavy RB rotation. Remember, this is a player who is averaging just 560 yards per season. 42 players rushed for more yards last year, including Taysom Hill. Swift’s pass-catching ability gives him a chance to lead the Eagles in touches but the thinking here is that he’ll finish second in carries behind Rashaad Penny.