With the 59th pick in Pride Of Detroit's 2013 NFL mock draft, the New England Patriots select South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger. TjwGOblue is serving as the Patriots' general manager, and his reasoning for the pick is below.
In my first piece, I identified the Patriots' needs going into this year's draft: deep-threat wide receiver, secondary depth and pass-rush help. With the Kawann Short pick, I helped address the need for pass-rush help. I am not crazy about any of the DEs or OLBs still available who could give me additional pass-rush help, and I think the Patriots will look to bring in a veteran (classic Bill Belichick) for additional support. Guys like Dwight Freeney and John Abraham look like they could fit in just fine with the Patriots and provide support.
I took a gamble hoping that one of the top WRs would fall to me, but sadly that didn't pay off. I am not, however, too worried because I feel like there is good value in the later rounds. I did consider taking Ryan Swope here because I am not confident Danny Amendola can stay healthy for 16 games this year. Swope projects to be a good slot receiver with some outside capability, but the Patriots brought back Julian Edelman, who is essentially the same thing, so I passed on that idea.
That left me with secondary help. Most pundits have the Patriots pegged in for a cornerback, which makes sense because the depth isn't ideal, but I like the starting capability of this secondary. Guys like D.J. Hayden and Blidi Wreh-Wilson were definitely in consideration for this pick, but I wanted to be a little different. When I look at this secondary, I see no physicality, no one who strikes fear into wide receivers' minds. I like the Adrian Wilson signing, but he's just a stopgap. He'll definitely bring some of the physicality I am looking for, but I want a long-term solution waiting in the wings. So allow me to introduce you to D.J. Swearinger out of South Carolina.
Let me remind you of the Belichick Draft Check List, a mix of consistent college production, character, leadership, instinctiveness and physicality. Swearinger was very productive in college, playing in every game as a true freshman and starting every year afterward. His stats are equally impressive with 244 career tackles, 6 INTs, 4 forced fumbles and 22 pass deflections. He has no known character issues or dust-ups in college, so I feel that I have consistent college production and character covered. Swearinger was a team captain this past year and the leader of the defense. When you watch his film, he is constantly barking at his teammates, calling out pre-snap adjustments and ensuring everyone is lined up correctly. He was also often leading pre-game pump-up rituals for the Gamecocks. Leadership covered.
Instinctiveness and physicality? Well those two attributes happen to be Swearinger's top two strengths. When you watch game tape of the South Carolina defense, Swearinger just seems to be all over the field and right where the ball is going, always in a position to make a stop or play. He understands positioning very well and is able to read a lot of plays before they even develop. Finally, scouts on various websites love the physicality that Swearinger brings with his game. He has a real nasty streak and gained a bit of a reputation as a head hunter, finally receiving the wrath of the SEC in his senior year when he was suspended for one game for smashing a defenseless receiver. While his physicality is his greatest strength, it also might work against him in the NFL. Swearinger will have to be careful and might see his college reputation carry over to the pros with him.
As of right now, I see Swearinger fourth on the depth chart for the safety position for the Patriots. You guys might scoff at the idea of taking a depth guy this early in the draft when there were better guys available; I just think the physicality that he brings will really take this defense to another level. On obvious passing situations, I envision Devin McCourty sliding back down to corner and Wilson stepping in to be a hybrid LB/safety for Brandon Spikes or Dont'a Hightower (who are both terrible in pass coverage), which means both Tavon Wilson and Swearinger can step in and play safety. This essentially would allow the Patriots to stay in their favored 3-4 base defense, which really is a disguised 3-3-5 defense, the ultimate read-option stopper.
There you have it, guys! Go Lions!
Check out the 2013 Pride Of Detroit Community Mock Draft tracker for a look at all of the picks.