The head coaches may have changed over the past four years but the center has remained the same for the Arkansas Razorbacks. Travis Swanson has been an institution in Fayettville, starting all 50 games since he was a redshirt freshman. Swanson has seen them when they were great and in the Sugar Bowl in 2010 and at their worst this past season when they went 3-9 without winning a single conference game even though he was great throughout the year.
Swanson brings a good deal of size for the center position while having a great deal of athletic ability. He has been terrific as a pass blocker and really shut down opponents but has shown a great deal of ability and potential as a run blocker. Swanson has some issues to clean up including staying off of the ground and some of his accuracy with hitting targets and space but he looks the part of a player that could have a long career in the NFL most likely playing center but could be attractive as a left guard as well. Swanson projects as a top 75 pick with what he brings to the table now as well as his potential going forward.
Vitals & Build
Swanson is listed at 6’5” 315lbs and he does not really look that impressive until the ball is snapped. He has a decent sized frame and has the room to continue adding strength and improving his body composition. His strength is solid and can be impressive but is inconsistent at times. He carries some weight around his midsection but considering how well he moves, it does not seem to be a problem; simply does not look aesthetically pleasing. Swanson is a natural athlete who can move well and displays pretty good body control. There is potential to continue getting stronger and improving the 315lbs he is listed to possess.
Swanson moves well and has impressive burst and quickness. He is asked to pull quite a bit in the Razorbacks system and does it effectively both when it comes to running the ball and in pass protection. He has no issues when it comes to getting to the second level in the running game and makes it look easy.
Swanson occasionally runs into issues when he ends up overrunning plays and having to come back to recover and make the block from behind. This is usually not a big issue with the running game, but it can be problematic at times in the pass, though he seems to take more care in maintaining his body control when he moves in pass protection.
Swanson does a good job in the running game for the most part. He fires off of the ball well, does a good job of getting underneath the pads of the opponent and works to bench press them. Swanson has solid strength but it does not always show up, but then he will have a play where he makes a big push in the running game to create space. He does a good job of working to turn the opponent and shield them from the play. Swanson has a good sense of when he can disengage and work to get another block.
Swanson has showed the ability where he can help one of his guards get their block, smoothly come off and make a big block on the linebacker at the next level and when he makes a clean impact, can pancake them. He does a pretty good job of working through to the whistle, so when he can, he will try to run down the field and pick up extra blocks.
They pull quite a bit in Fayetteville and he is extremely natural at getting the snap off and moving well. He has the speed and quickness where he can get there but will occasionally overrun the play, which forces him to try to cut back and cut the opponent off from the play. This can be tough to pull off when he is pulling and the opponent has gotten into the backfield, but it does not happen a ton.
The larger problem for Swanson that needs to be cleaned up is how often he ends up on the ground. Whether he ends up falling off of a block or gets caught in a bad spot, he can lose his balance and end up just falling onto the ground. Some of this appears to be caused by Swanson not keeping his feet moving to make sure they are under him, but it needs to be eliminated as much as possible.
Swanson is able to get to the second level with ease and at times is too athletic for his own good, getting too far up field. This is not a huge problem as in most cases, he can cut back and shield the opponent off from the play when he comes back as they are trying to run behind where he is, which gives him a natural angle.
His angles at times can put him in a tough position but he makes the most of the situation and does a good job of establishing a block and continuing to work his hands to get a good point of leverage and controlling them.
Swanson is an ordinary looking pass blocker. He can sort of lull people to sleep because he makes it look so easy. Swanson just slides in his gap, gets his hands on the opponent, stops them and controls them until the play ends. He is so effective that opponents will pass rush wide of them and not even send anyone at him when it is an obvious passing situations to try to avoid him. There are a number of plays where Swanson has nothing to do and has to help clean up on blocks because teams are assigned to rush away from him, which might not say much for his teammates but is high praise for his ability.
The Razorbacks will slide their protection and Swanson is able to pull, get into his space, set up shop and block. There are definitely situations where he finds himself with nothing to do out here as opponents work to attack away from him.
Swanson is light on his feet and athletic enough to slide and move. He keeps his head on a swivel and has a good sense of where the pressure is going to be and where he needs to be. Swanson anchors well, handles power effectively and really does not give up any ground. He does a good job with his hand placement and has long arms that make him so he can control the opponent and shut them down before they can gain much momentum.
Swanson does a great job with his hands and can get into the opponent quickly. He shows a decent punch, but is always working to get the best spot where he can really control the opponent and leverage them to gain power. Swanson keeps the opponent out and away from him, keeping them out of his body. Once he gets a block, especially in pass protection, he typically shuts down the opponent.
Swanson does a good job when it comes to snapping the ball and getting his feet going quickly. He can get to his pass drop, pull and attack forward without any real issue.
Swanson has terrific footwork in the sense of his athleticism and quickly he can operate. He can improve in terms of where he puts his feet at times and maintaining better control and balance. There are times when his pulls can get a little deep but he moves so well that he can make up for it.
His angles can sometimes make it tough for him to make a block. This is an issue that gives him some problems going to the second level and he needs to do a better job of hitting a moving target. At times as a run blocker, he appears to lose his balance as he falls off of a block because he falls forward and did not keep his feet moving.
The one area where Swanson seems to have great footwork is in pass protection. He slides well in space, maintains control of his body and always looks ready to block, balanced and in great position. Swanson really does a great job of keeping the opponent in front of him and does not give opponents a lane to attack.
Swanson can play in just about any scheme because of his size and frame, but he has a great deal of experience with pulling and moving, so teams that want to get their line on the move may be really high on what he can do. Swanson is a natural pivot but his size and ability could have some teams also look at him as a left guard that gives teams options at both spots in terms of depth and versatility.
Swanson should only get better as he gets more experience and time to add strength. He looks like he should be able to come in and play right out of the gate but a team might take him and play him at guard first before moving him to the center spot.
Swanson’s game is somewhat similar to that of Mike Pouncey of the Miami Dolphins. They have similar attributes in terms of what they bring to the position but Pouncey was a little more powerful coming out of Florida. Still, it took him a little bit for him to adjust and really flourish into the terrific pass blocker and flat out bully he has become in the running game. Swanson has the potential to get there and really become a great center or guard for a long time in the NFL.
Travis Swanson is going to be an attractive prospect because of his size and potential along with his quickness and feet. He is a really accomplished pass blocker as he comes into the draft and while his ability as a run blocker is not quite as polished, it has significant potential. Swanson has experience pulling and getting to the second level and playing in space but needs to be more consistent in executing in those areas as well as staying on his feet. He was one of the first players to accept an invitation in the Senior Bowl which should really allow him to showcase his ability to pass block. Swanson projects as a top 75 pick and should be able to come in and play early into his NFL career at either guard or center.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com