When the sixth round of the draft comes around, most people are looking for diamonds in the rough. In the case of the Arizona Cardinals, they selected Ryan Swope hoping he would be a gem.
However, in all cases of precious stones the hope is to show them off to the world and shine bright and so far that has not been the case of Swope. With the search for the next great slot receiver, the Cardinals selected him despite red flags about his health.
I know I said health, but to be more specific his history of concussions, which has now become just as threatening to an NFL players career as a torn ACL or Achilles tear, a concussion can cost a player games during the season due to the new rules the NFL has adopted over the last several years.
The policy in short states that a player has to not only pass a concussion test during the game before even thinking of returning. Add to that the loss of games if that player is unable to pass concurrent tests before returning to the field.
In Swope’s case, he has yet to play a NFL game and already his career is in question. Coming out of Texas A&M he had four concussions and since being drafted has missed a considerable amount of time on the practice field. A rookies most important time of their first year is during practice both mandatory practices and voluntary and determines if they see the field or not. Missing vital time building a rapport with new Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer does not bode well either, as other receivers are picked up and get reps that he was expected to have.
At Austins Westlake he was a star high school running back and he also set an A&M record for receptions in 2010. Even more impressive, he ran a remarkable 4.34 40-yard dash.
He even has that chip on his shoulder you want to see in a player saying “People were pretty shocked seeing a white guy run a 4.3”. Comparisons to Jordy Nelson, Wes Welker are not bad so there is anticipation that he can assume a role next to Larry Fitzgerald.
These are all things I believe coach Bruce Arians took into consideration when selecting him and still believe as he has been heard stating that “He would be fine.” I do agree that the Cardinals are taking the safe approach with him and for good reason. The NFL is now taking that hard stance on player safety as they should because the players are the ones having to deal with an physical repercussions later in life.
Some believed he could have been drafted earlier, but there was concern about his health and future hits that would come with a more punishing professional game.
There is hope because he is not hurt and precaution never hurt anyone, but to be over cautious may be costly to the Cardinals this year. Having Larry Fitzgerald speak to his health is also a vote to caution due to the fact that he was the only receiver taken in the draft and Larry wants to get his hands on him the same way he did with Michael Floyd.
There is going to be a collective sigh when Swope takes his hits but it will be a lot louder sigh by Cardinals coaching and brass upstairs.