Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Dayario Jamal Swearinger caught my eye in 2011 in a game against Mississippi State. In a tight ballgame, D.J. Swearinger came up huge in the waning minutes of the game when he picked off a pass to preserve at 14-12 victory. In South Carolina’s star studded defense, it’s easy to overlook anyone not named Jadeveon Clowney. Swearinger seemed to relish his moments in the sun amongst the likes of Stephon Gilmore, Melvin Ingram, and Jadeveon Clowney.
Swearinger’s junior season was nothing short of spectacular considering he was hampered with a foot injury for much of the season. In film study on Ingram and Gilmore for preparations for the 2012 NFL Draft, I wrote in my notes to keep a close eye on D.J. Swearinger for next draft season.
Turns out I wasn’t disappointed. For evaluators of talent there’s nothing like your feelings on a player being reaffirmed by guys in the business that you respect. As I was watching Swearinger this season, some of the guys that I follow closely were blowing up their Twitter timelines with love for Swearinger. While it’s not a necessity to have folks reaffirm my evaluation, it sure helps to know that you are not alone with what you are seeing.
Swearinger’s game borders on reckless. In most cases that’s a negative but not when you’re evaluating a versatile safety prospect that has spent time at free safety and strong safety during his career. I have talked at length about the need or want of NFL teams to have interchangeable parts on the defense. The safety position may be driving that bus as teams look for guys to play the deep half, cover the slot, and play at the line of scrimmage as an extra run defender. Swearinger does all of that plus some.
Swearinger lines up all over the field in any given game and it’s hard not to notice him. Trust me when I tell you that ball carriers in the open field will have an eye on Swearinger’s presence. He brings knockout power as a tackler. He will certainly draw the league’s attention with some of his vicious hits. If Swearinger can improve on his ability to disengage from blockers he will be a dangerous downhill run defender from his safety spot.
As a pass defender, South Carolina opted to line Swearinger up in the slot frequently this season but I was most impressed when he lined up over the outside receiver. He will take a look at Swearinger versus the run and pass in the hopes of showing readers why I’m so high on this safety prospect.
Against the run
The big hits are sexy and draw the youtube highlight reel fame but Swearinger’s NFL future will be made or broke by his ability to read, react, and break down in space as an in the box defender. The first play we’ll look at is early in the Arkansas game. Arkansas is lined up in a one back set with receivers in a 2×1 (strength to the field) and TE attached to the boundary. The flow of the play is into the boundary with Swearinger lined over the No. 2 receiver to the field. As I said, Swearinger is a down the hill run defender and this play shows that ability at the next level.
Swearinger works his way downhill as he follows the flow of the ball. I love his instincts in the run game as he is highly effective when he can stay clean in traffic. I believe he will need to learn to detach himself a little more effectively at the next level but this is a great example of a play where he stays clean and works to stay squared and makes the tackle. Read the rest of this entry » «D.J. Swearinger Film Study»