To get to know Detroit Lions third-round pick Travis Swanson, a center from Arkansas, I sent five questions to Josh Goforth from Arkansas Fight, SB Nation's Razorbacks blog. Here's a look at what he had to say about Swanson:
1. Dominic Raiola, the Lions' current starting center, has missed only four games since entering the NFL in 2001. At Arkansas, Swanson actually started all 50 games in his career. Is it safe to say that injuries were never a concern with Swanson?
After redshirting his true freshmen season at Arkansas he never missed a start the rest of his career. If there were any minor injuries he played through them.
2. Is Swanson a better blocker in the run game or in pass protection?
Overall he is better at pass protection than run blocking. Being recruited by and playing his first few seasons in a more pass-friendly offense under Bobby Petrino, his pass blocking is strong and it's still better than his run blocking at this point. He is a better blocker in certain types of run schemes, zone blocking specifically. Under Bret Bielema last season, they used him more in pull schemes where he could use his athletic ability as opposed to man-on-man blocking straight ahead.
3. Playing in the SEC, Swanson faced a lot of outstanding defensive linemen who are either in the NFL or are going to be in the next couple years. How did he perform when he went up against some of the top defensive linemen in the conference?
Against guys like Ego Ferguson of LSU he held his own. There were some plays where the strength and quickness combination of Ferguson was too much to handle, but it was that way for a lot of teams.
Swanson had two freshmen at both guard positions last fall, but his play was steady and dependable throughout the season against top-level D-lineman.
4. Did Swanson ever get playing time at offensive guard in college? The Lions envision him as their starting center of the future, but does he have the ability to play guard as well?
He did not play any guard or any other position at Arkansas. From the time he stepped into the lineup in 2010 at center, that's where he stayed. Whether he could play guard, I'm not sure. It seems his skill set is dependent on quickness and mobility, so maybe pulling and moving in zone blocking schemes could work, but I just don't see him blocking NFL defensive ends on a regular basis as a guard must do in line stunts and blitz situations.
5. What kind of person are the Lions getting in Swanson off the field?
He is a proven leader both when things are going well and when they're in the gutter. He was never involved in any situation that resulted in disciplinary actions whatsoever off the field. He took part in a recent fundraiser for tornado victims in Central Arkansas. Arkansas coaches have made an obvious effort to put his face out as a recruiting tool since the end of the season. It says a lot about the character of a player when the coaches want him to speak to recruits at camps where what a former player says and how they act means a lot.