C Travis Swanson (Arkansas) - Round 3, Pick No. 76
The Lions closed out the second day of the draft by addressing a need on the offensive line. It wasn't necessarily a need requiring immediate attention, but they decided to select Arkansas' Travis Swanson to be their center of the future.
Height: 6-foot-5 | Weight: 312 pounds
2010: 13 starts
2011: 13 starts
2012: 12 starts
2013: 12 starts
After redshirting in 2009, Swanson started 50 games in a row over the course of his final four years at Arkansas. Also, he was voted a captain in each of his final two seasons in college.
What the experts are saying
Swanson is a classic Bret Bielema type of blocker. His game is built around power first and power second. Combine that with a solid first step and Swanson has the makings of a good run blocker. He can hold his spot on the line without help and finishes off blocks. Will get beaten by speed. Defenders can get around him at times. Struggles to recover if he gets beaten. Comes out of his stance too high at times. Makes the line calls and will pick up late pressure adjustments.
Strengths: Quickness and mobility. He was asked to do a lot of pin and pull technique in his Senior season and is a good second level blocker. Football IQ. Durability. Leadership on and off the field.
Weaknesses: Strength, inside run blocking, arm length
Experienced, dependable pivot who lacks starter-caliber power and athleticism. Lack of versatility hurts his chances, and he will have to survive on smarts, leadership and competitiveness.
Swanson has some fluidity to bend and is a try-hard blocker, leaving it all out on the field, but he struggles with balance and ends up on the ground too much. He has limited range and won't fit every offense, but has the smarts and veteran presence that will earn the trust of his coaches and teammates - borderline starter, but should provide quality depth.
Much like Colorado State's Weston Richburg, Swanson is a four-year starter and two-time team captain with good length (33 1/8 inches) for the position. He's not as balanced as Richburg and has a tougher time staying in front of defenders, but he shows good awareness and rarely gets caught out of position in pass protection. He's also an adequate positional blocker who gets into position and walls off defenders.
Outlook for 2014
With the Lions' entire starting offensive line back this year, Swanson is projected to be in a backup role as a rookie. Specifically, he will learn behind Dominic Raiola and be groomed to eventually become the Lions' starting center, perhaps as early as next year. If there's an injury at one of the interior spots on the offensive line, Swanson could be forced into action as a rookie, but he's expected to be their top interior backup in 2014.