At some point, the Detroit Lions were going to make an underwhelming pick. Or at least it would feel that way.
Travis Swanson was a guy only the hardcore fans would know. The center from Arkansas didn't have the pro-readiness of Colorado State's Weston Richburg or the look of USC's Marcus Martin.
And that's OK. He's a center, and one that held his own in the SEC. That means something.
We Can Stop Wondering Who Will Replace Dominic Raiola
The Lions made a definitive statement by grabbing Swanson in the third round. They obviously believe that Swanson can be the long-term replacement when Raiola finally moves on to a life of professional wrestling.
So filling that need was a huge priority coming into this draft. Mockers, including this one, had flirted with Richburg, Martin and Swanson.
It's easy to assume that the Lions got the short end of the stick since they didn't get their pick of the litter. However, Swanson is no runt.
Washburn said he sees Swanson as an NFL-ready player, like Warford last year.— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) May 10, 2014
The man stands 6'5" and hangs 315 pounds over that large frame. Unfortunately, he doesn't wear it particularly well, but he's a center, not a linebacker or a tackle.
The Honor Student Will Go To School
Swanson is possibly the smartest center in this draft. I don't have a clue about how he performed in the classroom, but he was entrusted by an SEC coaching staff and quarterback to handle the pass-protections calls and adjust for blitzes.
Now, he'll get to mine Raiola's wealth of knowledge that has been built up over the past 14 years. The advantage of getting to sit for a year without the pressure of handling the normal duties associated for the position cannot be understated.
Mayhew says Swanson is smart, tough, versatile and durable. Expects him to play guard some in the preseason.— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) May 10, 2014
During that time, it looks like general manager Martin Mayhew will get him cross-trained at guard so he can provide depth at both positions. It's called killing two birds with one stone and covering the front office's backside in case he doesn't pan out as a center.
This is a better pick than meets the eye. All of the scouting reports, positional rankings and mock drafts had dropped Swanson because of a poor showing at the Senior Bowl.
Yet don't lose the forest for the trees. Swanson was a dominant player in the SEC, where he constantly battled some of the best defensive line prospects in the country. He'll be just fine.
Brandon Alisoglu is a Detroit Lions featured columnist who has written about the Lions on multiple sites. He also co-hosts a Lions-centric podcast,Lions Central Radio. Yell at him on Twitter about how wrong he is@BrandonAlisoglu.
All combine results are courtesy of NFL.com.
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