TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 01: Safety D. J. Swearinger #36 of the South Carolina Gamesockers tackles wide receiver Jeremy Gallon #10 of the Michigan Wolverines in the Outback Bowl January 1, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. South Carolina won 33 - 28. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger is a versatile safety who spent time at cornerback, in the slot, and at both safety positions during his time in college. He recorded six career interceptions.
Swearinger is a short, stock safety at 5-11, 208 pounds. That size is obviously not ideal, but it allows Swearinger to play different positions, including in the slot. He actually started some games at cornerback as recently as the 2012 season. I don’t think he can continually man the slot in the NFL because he’ll probably get eaten up by bigger tight ends in man coverage.
Swearinger has the ability to play either deep or in the box, however. He’s a very physical player—a willing tackler who does a really nice job of bringing ball-carriers down in the open field. Swearinger has some trouble getting off of blocks, but he rarely misses tackles. He’s one of the better overall tacklers in this class.
I watched four of Swearinger’s 2012 games, and he lined up all over the field. He seems most comfortable in a deep position. He’s not a prototypical deep free safety who can play the whole field, but he can man the deep half, using his aggressive style of play to fly up from there. Swearinger’s change-of-direction isn’t tremendous, so he’s not going to continually play underneath zones at the next level.
The problem is that Swearing is a 4.67 guy, so his upside might be limited. While he’s somewhat versatile, he also doesn’t really stand out at any single spot.
NFL Comparison: Donte Whitner
Both Whitner and Swearinger are undersized safeties capable of lining up all over the field, yet neither player excels anywhere.
Swearinger will probably be a mid-round draft pick—anywhere between the third and fifth rounds. I love that he can contribute in different ways, but he doesn’t have the ‘wow’ factor. When drafting in the middle and late rounds, teams should emphasize upside, and I’m not sure Swearinger has much of it.
Fit In Dallas
Monte Kiffin has historically searched for undersized, ball-hawking safeties. Swearinger has one of those traits, but I don’t think he has the ability to generate turnovers that the Cowboys need.
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Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.