Prospect: DJ Swearinger, SAF, South Carolina
Grade: 6.8 (Grading Scale)
Swearinger is a well put together safety. On the shorter side but has a stout, physical build with good muscle tone and thickness throughout his frame. Shows very good playing strength has ability to take on lead blocks and blow them up. Can also get his hands on receivers and jam them at the line. Is moved all over the field and shows good laterally agility sliding to play the run, but he is much better when coming forward. Top end speed is average, but accelerates quickly when coming down hill and powerful at point of impact. Shows an explosive closing burst in run support, able to generate a lot of power.
Displays pretty good fluidity through his midsection, but doesn’t display the suddenness when changing direction. Takes him a second to get going because he plays flat-footed at times. Lacks long arms and length.
Swearinger is a physical defender when in coverage. He’s good at attacking crossing routes and throws in front of him. Shows the ability to time up his hits well. Receivers want to know where he is one the field. Gets moved all around the formation and has played both free and strong safety. Projects best to the traditional strong safety position. Can play closer to the line of scrimmage and can get jams of slot receivers or tight ends. When he fails to get a good jam, he gets beaten with stutter step. Not quick or sudden enough to play man coverage from the slot in the NFL. Plays responsibly in zone coverage, takes good angles and will come off his man to attack underneath throws. Swearinger has shown decent deep third ability, keeping the ball and receiver in front of him. When playing deep, he takes good angles and shows average range.
Can be a step late, but puts himself in position to make a tackle. I don’t believe he always trust his eyes or first instincts. Takes a step in the right direction, before hesitating and then breaking hard. Swearinger uses his hands well in coverage, challenges the receiver and makes the receiver work to separate. His hand use could be his biggest weakness in the NFL, relies on clutching and grabbing far too much. It will result in illegal contact penalties at NFL level. Doesn’t have great recovery speed, once the receiver is by him he struggles to catch up.
Vs. The Run
Aggressive and physical run defender. Swearinger does a good job of reading his keys and flying up to fill the running lane. Powerful tackler, goes for the kill shot and explodes through the ball carrier. Takes proper angles from across the field to track the outside run, will change speeds to adjust his angle. Can come up into the box as an edge defender. When doing so, reads contain and comes down the line hard and at a good angle to make the tackle. Very good blitzer off the edge, accelerates quickly and can finish. Strong enough to take on lead blocks, slide off and make the tackle.
In the open field he has a tendency to overrun the play and also miss tackles vs. elusive runners.
Swearinger displays inconsistent ball skills. At times he shows the ability to break on route and snatch the ball out of the air, while at others he mistimes the ball and allows it to get over his head (Vanderbilt). Only 6 interceptions in four seasons, but has managed to break up 16 passes.
Vocal and emotional leader of the Gamecocks defense. Four year starter at multiple positions on the defense. Well-respected player on and off the field. His teammates rave about his leadership skills and his locker room presence. No off the field trouble to speak of. Played on special teams early on in his career, so he can add value to an NFL team on coverage units. Good student and was invited to the Senior Bowl. Has stayed on the field during his career, playing in 52 out of 53 games.
Only injury that is known is a foot injury that occurred during the 2011 season.
Swearinger is physical presence on the back end of the defense. Whichever team drafts him is getting an enforcer and intimidator in their back seven. He’s a smart player, who knows his assignments and sticks to his man. He can play a number of different roles, but projects to the strong safety spot in the NFL. Swearinger is the type of player who receivers fear when going over the middle. He’s very good vs. the run showing the ability to read quickly and fill the running lane.
His quickness and suddenness is a legitimate concern at the next level, as he may struggle to cover slot receivers. His speed and range is only average, but he makes up for it with good angles. Overall, he is a physical and aggressive presence who finds a way to impact the football game. He looks like a late second – third round pick in April’s draft.