Erik Swoope's name probably won't ring a bell to college hoops fans. During his senior season, Swoope’s averaged just 5.0 points and 2.7 rebounds per game in 18 minutes off the bench for an unspectacular Hurricane team.
However, the undrafted free agent is attempting to make waves in the Indianapolis Colts this summer as the next pedestrian college basketball frontcourt thumper to reinvent himself into an NFL tight end.
He's the strongest player Miami head coach Jim Larranaga has ever coached in 43 years and in his first NFL cup of coffee is leaving quite an impression on the Colts head coach Chuck Pagano.
Not all athletic and physical power forwards make it in the NFL. There's a certain degree of agility, a preponderance for physical collisions that a basketball player must have to play in the National Football League. From the initial reviews, it appears Swoope has the necessary mentally and physical skills. It’s just a matter of developing them. After all, because he’s never played organized football, Swoope is years behind his peers.
Hailing from the same alma mater as the NFL's most successful hoops-to-football convert will inevitably garner Swoope comparisons to Jimmy Graham, but with one small caveat.
Swoope had absolutely zero college or high school or football tape for scouts to analyze while Graham played lined up in cleats and pads during his senior season at The U. That's the difference between Graham getting tabbed in the third round by Super Bowl champion New Orleans and Swoope being undrafted.
“Erik Swoope is another example of our scouting department digging out capable and intriguing athletes with enough overall traits to make this difficult transition,” Colts general manager Ryan Griggs said in a soggy mist of his self-adulaton two weeks ago.
Since then, Pagano has co-signed Griggs' endorsement of Swoope
"To be able to just break a huddle, get in a stance, run the routes that he ran, catch the balls that he caught, I mean, off the charts, exceeded our expectations way beyond anything that you'd ever imagine for a guy that never played," Pagano said, via the team's official website. "If he continues to work -- he's a bright guy, he's smart, he picks things up, he looks like he's got great passion for this -- who knows?"
Swoope is an exceptional athlete, but not quite as freakish as Graham. He's an inch shorter, his vertical measured out three inches smaller and his low 4.6's forty is about a tenth of a second slower than Graham's was four years ago.
Swoope will most likely remain a project on the practice squad for at least one season, but down the road Indianapolis could be ripping the veil off of another gem for Andrew Luck to target in his thin receiving corps.