During NFL Network’s morning show “Good Morning Football”, host Nate Burleson asked Kansas City Chiefs superstar Kareem Hunt who he expects to be the next breakout rookie running back. The answer he gave: Terry Swanson.

During his freshman, sophomore, and junior seasons at the University of Toledo, Swanson had to compete against Kareem Hunt for carries. Despite Hunt being an elite running back, as exhibited by his marvelous rookie season in the NFL, Swanson was still able to carve out a role on the offense, garnering 372 carries for 2,238 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Rushing & Receiving Table
Rushing Receiving Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos G Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
*2014 Toledo MAC FR RB 12 113 732 6.5 6 12 153 12.8 1 125 885 7.1 7
*2015 Toledo MAC SO RB 11 143 923 6.5 7 13 71 5.5 0 156 994 6.4 7
*2016 Toledo MAC JR RB 13 116 583 5.0 4 10 74 7.4 1 126 657 5.2 5
*2017 Toledo MAC SR RB 13 242 1363 5.6 14 20 194 9.7 0 262 1557 5.9 14
Career Toledo 614 3601 5.9 31 55 492 8.9 2 669 4093 6.1 33

But during his senior season is when Swanson truly shined, because while Kareem Hunt was captivating NFL audiences with his breakout rookie season with the Chiefs, he was able to run for 1,364 and 14 touchdowns on 242 carries. This tremendous performance led to Swanson being immediately placed into the draft conversation, with most scouts projecting him as a late round pick or priority free agent.

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Swanson continued to bolster his draft stock by putting up impressive numbers during his pro day. His blistering 4.51 40-yard dash would’ve ranked sixth among running backs at the combine and 24 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press would’ve ranked fourth. These totals were soon followed by interest from NFL teams, with the Texans being particularly intrigued, having Swanson visit the team in mid-April.

The 5’10”, 205 pound Terry Swanson eluding a tackler while playing for the University of Toledo (Blade/Lory King).

Despite all of this success, Swanson fell out of the draft entirely and was soon signed as an undrafted free agent by the Texans. Most weren’t surprised by this move, as the Texans had already met with Swanson and it was well reported that they wanted to acquire another running back through either the draft or free agency.

Now that he is on the team, I expect Terry Swanson to carve out a role on the Texans offense and steal carries from incumbents Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman. The main reason I believe this is because Swanson has the rushing abilities to play a larger role.

Swanson is mainly known for his vision and breakaway speed, which allows him to constantly break away for big plays and get big chunks of yardage when needed. This is exhibited by the whopping 5.9 yards per carry he averaged at Toledo.

Another strength of his is, well, his strength. Swanson can run over defenders and get important short yardage gains. He is also a gym rat, which led to him being one of the strongest running backs in the 2018 draft class.

All of these traits have led to many scouts likening Swanson to his former teammate: Kareem Hunt. This makes a lot of sense, as Swanson had to learn under Hunt while at Toledo, and already told the Houston Chronicle that he, “took from his film study each and every day.” Although Swanson isn’t as agile, elusive, or powerful as Hunt – the comparison is still promising – and he could nonetheless become a productive NFL running back in the future.

The second reason why I see Swanson breaking out next season is because the incumbent running backs, D’Onta Foreman and Lamar Miller, were not efficient last season. Miller had the worst statistical season of his entire career, with backup Alfred Blue even starting to challenge him for carries towards the end of 2017.

And although I do think Foreman will turn heads next season, I also believe the torn achilles he suffered is extremely concerning. After all, there is a reason why the Texans were interested in drafting and/or signing running backs this offseason.

Nov 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller (26) is tackled by Indianapolis Colts free safety Darius Butler (20) during the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports
Lamar Miller ran for a career-low 3.7 yards per carry last season (Shanna Lockwood/USA TODAY Sports).

Overall, I still see Miller and Foreman receiving more carries, simply because they are far more talented than Swanson. But nonetheless, I still expect Swanson to steal reps and push for a larger workload in the future due to Miller’s declining performance and Foreman’s injury concerns.

Although he may not be Kareem Hunt, Terry Swanson is still a rookie to watch out for in 2018.


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