Mel Kiper Jr. won’t get any arguments from Georgia fans about D’Andre Swift being the best back available in the NFL draft.
But part of his running backs breakdown might raise an eyebrow or two.
Kiper, ESPN’s celebrated NFL draft expert, predicts Swift will be the first running back selected, likely on April 23 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Miami Dolphins.
“What sets him apart is the completeness, as a runner, receiver, blocker and ball security,” Kiper said on conference call earlier this week. “All four areas, he comes out on top.”
And yet, Kiper made the case that Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor are better in the specific area of running the football.
“Now, Dobbins is a fierce runner, I think he’s the best pure runner,” Kiper said. “He and Jonathan Taylor would be the best two pure runners.”
Swift’s cutback ability puts him in a league of his own, through his junior season, there was less of that and more authoritative North-South running into 8-man boxes.
Swift Was Named @SEC Offensive Player of the Week🎉 For His Performance Against The Wildcats Of Kentucky
— Matthew Hall (@ugafbnews) October 24, 2019
NFL scouts who review Swift’s sophomore season will see more of the game-breaking ability that makes him a first-round pick, as impressive and needed as his workhouse role was last season.
Kiper said Swift is, no doubt, one of the Top 20 players in the upcoming NFL draft, but team needs often dictate where a player is selected.
In this year’s draft, there are only two teams with a strong need for a running back. This limits the potential teams Swift could go to as a first-rounder, according to Kiper, and could explain why some mock drafts have Swift falling to the second round.
“Swift, because of the completeness, is intriguing for Tampa Bay at 14, (and) Miami you look at 18 or 26,” Kiper said, rattling off the slots the explosive Georgia tailback could be selected in the first round.
“And guess what? The problem is, if you don’t go to Tampa or Miami, what other team is going to prioritize a running back to take D’Andre Swift if Tampa and Miami don’t? That’s the tough part of a mock first round.”
No doubt, Swift started trending as a second-round pick in recent mock drafts before Kiper came back with him as a projected first-rounder.
“You know Swift is one of the best 20 players in this draft, right now on the big board, for me, he’s at 17,” Kiper said. “It’s just finding a fit for a running back, when most teams are very well fortified at that position.”
— Maurice Goodson (@mogoouchie) March 18, 2020