As we continue to make the case for different players that the Ravens could draft with the 28th overall pick, next on the list is Georgia running back D’Andre Swift.
Swift has been mocked to Baltimore at 28th overall on several occasions over the last several weeks, and could make an exciting addition to the Ravens’ rushing attack.
When it comes to running backs, something that stands out immediately about Swift is his relative lack of mileage. While he lacks the counting stats of fellow top running back prospects Jonathan Taylor and J.K. Dobbins, Swift had just 440 carries in his three years at Georgia, compared to the 926 and 725 that Taylor and Dobbins had at Wisconsin and Ohio State, respectively.
While any running back joining the Ravens backfield would be sharing carries with Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram, and others, Swift would stand to enter Year two (when he figures to become the featured back) with significantly less tread on the tires than some of his prospect counterparts.
Some argue that Baltimore doesn’t need another running back, citing the presence of Gus Edwards and Justice Hill behind Ingram. But it was clear to the naked eye that the Ravens’ rushing game was not the same without a healthy Mark Ingram last year against Tennessee, and Ingram won’t be any younger when the season kicks off this Fall.
Even if Ingram manages to be 100 percent of what he was before the injury last season, having another feature back in such a run-heavy offense would give Greg Roman and co. the ability to trim down Jackson’s designed runs this year. While it’s impossible to truly “limit” when Jackson opts to scramble, there’s plenty that can be done to bring down his total carries from the 176 in 2019.
After setting a new NFL team rushing record en route to a 14-2 year, there’s no reason to think the offense won’t be similar this coming year, but new wrinkles will need to be introduced to keep defenses guessing, and Swift’s style would offer a “different flavor” from what Jackson and Ingram bring to the table.
A 4.48-40 time only further validated his obvious speed, and he could be a second-half game-breaker after Ingram tires defenses out with his violent running style. Swift has garnered comps to New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara, and the Saints showed how effective an Ingram/”Kamara-type” duo can be when the two shared the backfield in 2017 and 2018.
Some argue that the positional value isn’t there to justify a first-round running back, but in a time where running back holdouts and contract disputes are so common, it would obviously hold some value to have that fifth-year option over Swift for down the road, especially given how most of the true blue chip prospects will be long gone when the 28th selection rolls around. As our own Chris Schisler has said,
"“The argument isn’t that the Ravens should go into this draft with Swift as their go to plan. The argument is that a situation could unfold where drafting Swift is the best answer at 28.”"
Georgia may not be up there with the likes of Alabama, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame when it comes to “Ravens Pipeline Schools,” but with a long list of alumni ranging from Herschel Walker, to Todd Gurley, to Knowshon Moreno, to Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, the Bulldogs have certainly established themselves as a running back pipeline for the NFL.
If program track record carries any weight to the Ravens (and history shows it does), Swift comes from as impressive a program as there is at the running back position.
Normally, it would be harder to justify a running back like Swift in the first round, but Baltimore isn’t most teams. An offense as run-focused as the Ravens can’t trot out a quarterback and a 30-year-old running back as their only feature options if they have Super Bowl aspirations, and Swift shows as much upside and true star potential as any tailback in the 2020 draft class. If he’s there on the board when Baltimore comes on the clock, they should give him a nice, long look.