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Former UGA running back D'Andre Swift was drafted with the 35th pick by the Detroit Lions Friday night.

One of the Rolling Stones most beloved songs could’ve easily been about D’Andre Swift

Brandon Adams

“I saw her today at the reception…” Almost everyone of a certain age knows the line that follows that classic Rolling Stones song. In fact, almost anyone of any age can sing every word of You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

It’s possible you’re humming the tune right now. If you are, you should also take a moment to consider that the song could easily be about former Georgia running back D’Andre Swift.

Swift wanted to be a first-round pick. Who doesn’t after all? And for a while, it seemed likely that he would be. His name was a feature in many of the early mock drafts, and a popular projection had him going to the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 32 overall. Yet when the Chiefs selected, the Super Bowl champs took a different running back — LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

Swift voiced his displeasure about being passed over, and many took to social media to support him. However, after he’s had time to process everything that’s happened over the last 48 hours, hopefully, Swift comes to the realization that he’s probably better off with the Detroit Lions (who drafted him with the third pick in the second round Friday night) than he would’ve been with the Chiefs.

In other words, he might not have gotten what he wants, but it might be what he needs.

At first glance, the Lions don’t necessarily seem like a better home for a running back, but they probably are.

Detroit was a slightly better rushing team in 2019 than Kansas City. The Lions outrushed the Chiefs 1,649 yards to 1,569 — despite the fact Kansas City had 110 more attempts. However, a deeper look at the stats tells a more significant story.

A large portion of the Chiefs’ rushing total came on what Football Outsiders calls “open field” runs — which are rushing attempts that gain more than 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. The Chiefs were seventh in the NFL in that category last season. The Lions were just 25th.

However, Detroit was better on rushing plays at the line of scrimmage. The Lions were 20th in adjusted line yards according to Football Outsiders. The Chiefs were just 28th.

In summary, a lot of Kansas City’s rushing yards came on big plays, and the fact that as a winning team, they were able to call more running plays. Detroit — which won only three times last season — wasn’t able to call as many running plays, but when the Lions did rush the ball, its offensive line outperformed Kansas City’s.

It’s not a dramatic difference, but it represents an opportunity for Swift.

Most importantly, it’s easier to imagine the Lions building an offense around Swift and making him a face of the franchise and a focal point in future seasons.

That wouldn’t be likely in Kansas City.

In the most important games the Chiefs played last season, running plays were an afterthought. Five teams averaged more rushing attempts per game than Kansas City in the postseason. Given that the Chiefs’ quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, is a former league MVP, it’s easy to understand why.

That’s kind of the point. The Chiefs are already Mahomes’ team. But Swift has a chance to make the Lions his team — much the same way another running back, Barry Sanders, was once the city’s most popular athlete years before.

Of course, the Lions still have former UGA quarterback Matthew Stafford as the current face of the franchise, but Stafford’s season was cut short due to injuries in 2019 and a succession plan for a new signal caller has been debated among fans and media.

It’s also fair to point out the Lions have running back Kerryon Johnson — who has been effective when healthy. But unfortunately for Johnson, “when” is doing a lot of heavy lifting in that previous sentence, because Johnson hasn’t been healthy often. He’s only collected 273 touches over his first two NFL seasons.

All the more reason that Swift could step in and thrive.

It’s not as sexy as being a first-round pick, but it’s likely a more substantial opportunity than would’ve awaited him in Kansas City.

It may not be what Swift wanted, but it could end up being exactly what the Lions need.

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