The 2013 NFL Draft is unique over the last several years for one reason: a strong safety class. There's been some exciting prospects at both free and strong safety in recent years, but the talent pool has dried up after the top one or two guys in those instances.
A four-year starter at South Carolina, safety D.J. Swearinger could have been considered one of those top names in other drafts, but he finds himself going slightly under the radar this year. He's known as a versatile leader and strong tackler, and started every game since arriving at South Carolina, outside of one in which he was suspended for a hit on a defenseless receiver.
- Swearinger is incredibly versatile and has been asked to do everything a safety is ever asked to do at South Carolina. He'll fit in any scheme, though some better than others.
- He's a big hitter, punishing receivers over the middle and making solid tackles on running backs. He's a very downhill player and his presence is felt.
- Has lined up one-on-one with receivers as part of his "asked to do everything" job description at South Carolina. He fared well while doing it, which could net him some matchups covering tight ends in the NFL.
Here is a video compilation of Swearinger vs. Clemson in 2012, from draftbreakdown.com:
- Despite his versatility, Swearinger has never really been the "star" of the defense. He can disappear at times and not have his name called for a couple weeks at a time.
- Doesn't appear to have great range. When Swearinger is given his assignment, he sticks to it like glue, but if a play is developing across the field, he doesn't have the speed or ability to cut it off with a strong angle.
- At times, he can be too aggressive looking for the big play. If the risk was worth the reward, he'd have more interceptions to his name. He jumps routes too early at times, and has the tendency to tackle at the feet of running backs, which can hurt him at the next level.
- The NFL.com draft profile had this to say on Swearinger:
He has played both free and strong safety, and his good performances as a spot duty at corner against big receivers suggests he has the potential to cover NFL tight ends in coverage well. He projects to be a day two pick.
- Rob Rang of CBS Sports had this to say:
With the pass rush he had in front of him, as well as stellar play from cornerback Stephon Gilmore, Swearinger served as more of a complementary piece last season than a true star on his own.
That said, he's a very physical defender who showed greater open-field tackling skills and dependability in coverage as the year wore on. At this point he looks like a mid-round selection. Considering his versatility and toughness, however, he could be on the verge of a strong jump up the board this season.
- Outside of the suspension, Swearinger started every single game during his time at South Carolina at either free or strong safety.
- Visit cfbstats.com for Swearinger's complete career stats with South Carolina.
2013 NFL Combine performance:
Swearinger wasn't particularly quick in the 40-yard dash, finishing in 4.6 seconds; however, he did well in the other drills and showed strong lower body strength and explosion. His 37 inch vertical jump was among the best of the defensive backs and shows that he can get moving in a hurry, if need be.
The showing wasn't great for Swearinger, but he gave no reason for scouts to doubt that the athleticism he showed at South Carolina won't be able to translate to the NFL.
- Swearinger is the No. 88 player on the SB Nation top 100 big board, and the No. 6 safety, above players like Jonathan Cyprien and Bacarri Rambo, but below Shawn Williams, Eric Reid, Tony Jefferson, Matt Elam and Kenny Vaccaro.