With the 2014 NFL Draft only a few months away, we reached out to some of the draft prospects we believe the Green Bay Packers could target in May. With the loss of Evan Dietrich-Smith to free agency, the Packers are suddenly in search for a starting center on their roster this spring.
With center being a key position for the Packers going into the draft, I reached out one of the top centers in this year’s draft class, Arkansas’s Travis Swanson.
Swanson was a four-year starter at center for the Razorbacks. Amazingly, he started all 50 games in his college career. An impressive feat that not only gave him the second-longest active streak as a senior in 2013 but also is a testament to his incredible durability as a football player.
As a leader on the line, Swanson blocked for three 3,000-yard passers and two 1,000-yard rushers in his four years at Arkansas. And on top of these accomplishments, the standout offensive lineman also earned All-American and All-SEC honors and solidified his spot as one of the top center prospects coming out of college.
At 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds, Swanson brings tremendous size to the center position, and this coupled with his natural football ability and grittiness as a true road grater in the middle of the line, makes him an intriguing prospect for a team, like Green Bay, looking to the draft to upgrade their center position this spring.
I caught up with Swanson earlier in the month and here is what he had to say about his game and his preparation for the draft.
Q. How has the pre-draft process been going for you and what will the next couple of months look like for you as you get ready for the draft in May?
TS: I’ve been in Irvine, California, training for the combine and my pro day. The main thing I focused on for the Senior Bowl and Combine was to showcase my athleticism and versatility to play different positions. I will try to continue to show this at my pro day.
Q. Two of your games that really stood out to me were your performances against Alabama and LSU this past season. You faced two of the top defensive lines in college football and played really well. How does it help your cause entering the draft knowing you put some good things on tape against some of the top talent in college football?
TS: One of the main reasons I wanted to play at Arkansas was the fact that you see the top competition week in and week out that no other conference gets to go against. Playing in the conference for five years I feel has helped me tremendously with transitioning to the next level.
Q. As an offensive lineman, you’re a bit of an unsung hero on the team. What led to you deciding to play center and what is your favorite thing about playing the position?
TS: I’ve been an O-lineman my entire life and would not change it for anything! In the beginning of my career at Arkansas, my coaches had asked me what I thought about playing center and I loved the idea. My favorite thing about it is the leadership role you have to take. I have to direct traffic for the four other guys on the line as well as myself.
Q. Watching some of your games, I was impressed by your ability to get to the second level and engage with the linebackers. Is this something you excel at? What are some other strengths of your game?
TS: I feel that the best parts of my game are my athleticism, football intelligence, and mean streak.
Q. For those of us who have never played the position, tell us how important hand placement and footwork are for playing center?
TS: In my mind, technique is the biggest thing that any offensive lineman needs to have. Your feet and hands are the tools you have to excel in the game.
Q. Did you have a specific player or team you rooted for growing up?
TS: I did not have a specific team that I loved to watch growing up. Any chance I got to watch football I would always take advantage of it.
Q. Tell us a little bit about your journey to this point. Who have been the most influential people in your life that helped you along the way? What have been the biggest challenges?
TS: The most influential people have been my family back home, my fiancé Emily, and Mitch Petrus who was a 5th year senior when I was a true freshman.
Q. Tell us more about Travis Swanson the person. When you’re away from football, what do you like to do in your free time? Any favorite hobbies?
TS: My go-to hobby would be playing the guitar. I taught myself in the 6th grade how to play and have stuck with it ever since. I played Lacrosse in middle school and high school and love watching the sport any time I can.
Film on Travis Swanson
Travis Swanson against LSU
Travis Swanson against Alabama
Watch more film on Travis Swanson at draftbreakdown.com.