Editor’s note: This is the first in an occasional series about NFL draft prospects that would be a good fit for the Patriots. The NFL draft is April 25-27.
Name: D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina
Overview: As a senior last season, Swearinger was a ball hawk, picking up second-team All-SEC honors after recording 79 tackles, two interceptions (one for a touchdown), two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and seven passes defensed.
He is known for his hard-hitting play, which contrasts sharply with the styles of Devin McCourty and Steve Gregory, the Patriots’ current starting safety duo.
But the key with Swearinger, who reportedly met with the Patriots during the NFL combine, is his versatility. He has played cornerback, defended slot receivers, and has moved back and forth between free and strong safety. In 2012, he split time at corner and free safety.
After performing at a high level in the talented SEC, he is projected to go in the second or third round of the draft. His 40-yard dash time (4.67) did not help his cause. But his quickness, as evidenced by his cone drill (6.70), was outstanding and showed he has the ability to make up for a lack of straight-line speed.
Workout results (combine)
40-yard dash: 4.67
Bench press (225 pounds): 17 reps