Detroit Lions strongly hinting D’Andre Swift is the future, not Kerryon Johnson

Who will be the starting running back for the Detroit Lions: D’Andre Swift or Kerryon Johnson?

After taking Georgia running back D’Andre Swift with the No. 35 pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia isn’t quick to name him the starter over Kerryon Johnson.

While the running back position isn’t what it once was, Patricia is old school. The longevity of the NFL’s premier backs is in question now more than ever, with even Todd Gurley looking for a second team after his age-25 season.

So, when Patricia says on The Rich Eisen Show that he has no defined starting running back, he’s essentially signaling that should Swift live up to his potential, Detroit will be ready to move on by the time the Auburn product’s contract is up after the 2021 season.

“For me, we’re going to try to play whoever is going to help us in that particular play, that particular game, whatever it might be,” Patricia said on NBCSN’s Rich Eisen Show. “If you’re out there for the very first play, or you get out there on the second play, I don’t really understand what the difference is in a starter in that case. But, certainly, we’re excited to be able to acquire Swift and get him on our team and seeing what he can do. Sometimes you put two or three running backs out there. We will see what happens.”

Johnson ran for 403 yards in an injury-shortened 2019 season that limited him to eight games and seven starts. He ran for 641 yards on 5.4 yards per carry and had 854 scrimmage yards after he was taken with the No. 43 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Swift is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons in a loaded Georgia backfield and had 3,551 scrimmage yards and 25 touchdowns in his three years with the Bulldogs.

The fluidity of the Lions’ offense should help them in the short-term, especially at a position where they have so much depth. For Johnson, though, it sounds like his days of being the feature back on Motown are behind him, despite only being 22 years of age.

The Lions long-term play is banking on Swift, arguably the most talented running back in this draft class, who has the explosive play-making ability to score on any given play. For now, they’ll create one of the best young running back duos in the game.

At some point, however, the Lions are going to have to make a decision. Given the trend against paying running backstop dollar, expect them to side with Swift.

Next: 5 players the Detroit Lions need to be great in 2020

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