Lions RB D'Andre Swift Named Potential 'Instant Impact' Rookie

Could he supplant Kerryon Johnson along the way?

Will Burchfield
May 19, 2020 - 11:30 am

Of the Lions' nine draft picks this spring, it's fair to expect the top four to make significant contributions this fall. 

They have a shutdown corner in Jeff Okudah, an explosive running back in D'Andre Swift, a much-needed pass rusher in Julian Okwara and a potential starting guard in Jonah Jackson. 

And who will make the biggest impact of those four? 

That would be Swift, according to Nate Davis of USA Today.

Davis listed Swift among 20 rookies who can make 'instant impacts' this season. That would be a boon for the Lions, who are hoping Swift and Kerryon Johnson can jolt a long-dormant rushing attack to life.

"Since Barry Sanders retired in 1999, this team has enjoyed four 1,000-yard rushing seasons from three players, none since 2013," writes Davis. "Swift totaled nearly 2,300 yards on the ground over his final two seasons at Georgia and has the tools to supplant oft-injured Kerryon Johnson, perhaps on an every-down basis." 

The Lions don't envision Swift replacing Johnson, to be clear. They envision the duo sharing the load. But it's true that Swift is insurance for Johnson, who's missed 14 games over his first two seasons. Should Johnson go down again, Swift's ceiling will rise. 

Even then, it's unlikely Detroit will make Swift an 'every-down' back. That goes against the offensive vision of Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn. They want a committee in the backfield, which will include Bo Scarbrough, Ty Johnson and possibly fifth-round pick Jason Huntley in 2020.

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All that said, Swift looks like the most complete back of the group. Talent and reliability will earn him extra snaps, and extra snaps will yield more production. Will he break Detroit's 1,000-yard rusher drought? Probably not. 

Can he make an instant impact just the same? The Lions sure hope so.