2013 NFL Draft Scouting Report: D.J. Swearinger

  • Extremely physical
  • Excellent run-defender
  • Good pass-coverage ability
  • Superb as eighth man in the box
  • Instinctive
  • Quickly flies around the field
  • Devastating hitter
  • Can separate the ball from the receiver
  • Athletic enough to cover tight ends and running backs in man coverage
  • Keeps plays in front of him
  • Good blitzer
  • Should be valuable on special teams
  • Should be able to play quickly
  • Experienced & successful against good college talent

  • Weaknesses:
  • Range?
  • Not a ballhawk
  • Just average height/length
  • Too often goes for knockout blow rather than wrapping up
  • Should improve tackling fundamentals
  • Overly aggressive, which could get penalties

  • Summary: As the top conference in the nation, the SEC is known for playing fast, tough and physical football. The SEC is the closest thing the NFL has to a minor league, and Swearinger has been one of the most physical players in the conference in recent years. He spent the last three seasons a solid contributor for the Gamecocks. Swearinger was a prized recruit coming out of high school and has turned into a reliable defender.

    Swearinger saw his first playing time in 2010 as a sophomore when he started eight games. He totaled 65 tackles with an interception, five passes broken up and one forced fumble that year. Swearinger formed a nice duo with Antonio Allen in 2011. Swearinger started 13 games and could’ve produced more if it weren’t for a nagging foot injury. He totaled 80 tackles with three interceptions, three passes broken up and 1.5 tackles for a loss. The junior was second on the team to Allen in tackles (88).

    The 2012 season was Swearinger’s best as he was one of the top safeties in the SEC. The senior was all over the field for the Gamecocks and was the enforcer of their defense. Aside from Jadeveon Clowney, Swearinger was South Carolina’s best defender. He had 79 tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and seven passes broken up, but played better than the numbers indicate. Injuries prompted South Carolina to play Swearinger at cornerback. It isn’t a natural position for him, but it helped his development for the NFL.

    Sources with multiple teams have said they really like Swearinger. He is extremely physical and hits through the whistle. Swearinger is a chippy defender who will blast offensive players at any opportunity. Swearinger is excellent as the eighth man in the box, too. He is a tough run-defender and his run defense is NFL ready.

    Swearginer doesn’t look like a rangy free safety to cover a lot of ground in the back end on pass coverage. He is good in zone coverage and could play man coverage on tight ends and slot receivers. That would be the best fit for him as a pro.

    It is a deep safety draft, and Swearinger looks like one of the good value picks to be had in the second or third round. If he doesn’t start right away, he should be a good player on special teams. Swearinger looks like solid future starter in the NFL.

    Player Comparison: Bernard Pollard. Swearinger’s style of play is reminiscent of Pollard. Both players are very physical and play with a swagger. Pollard has been an enforcer who has bounced around in large part because of off-the-field issues. Pollard (6-1, 225) was a second-round pick (54th overall) by the Chiefs out of Purdue in 2006. Swearinger could go in that range this year.

    NFL Matches: Cincinnati, Washington, Carolina, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Baltimore, Houston, Jacksonville

    There are a number of teams that could target Swearinger on the second day of the 2013 NFL Draft. If the Bengals doesn’t take a safety in the first round, they could target Swearinger with one of their second-round picks. That could be the earliest that he goes off the board.

    In the middle of the second round, Carolina could target Swearinger. The Panthers had horrible safety play in 2012 and cap limitations have prevented them from significantly upgrading the position.

    Washington has shown serious interest in Swearinger, and the team badly needs to upgrade its safeties. He makes a lot of sense for the Redskins.

    The Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans could both use safety depth. Either franchise could consider Swearinger in the second or third round.

    The 49ers and Ravens both need a safety as well and could look at Swearinger late in the second round. San Francisco lost Dahson Goldson while Baltimore lost both of its starting safeties from last year. The Ravens signed Michael Huff, but still need another safety. Swearinger could be selected at the end of the second round by either of the Super Bowl participants.

    The Jaguars could select Swearinger at the beginning of the third round. They need safety help and he could be the best player on the board.


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