(Editor's Note: Dan Turner, a journalist from England, has come across the pond for the second straight training camp, to get a closer look at America's Team. Throughout camp, Dan (@dtsturner) will provide some insight on several rookies, continuing today with seventh-round pick Geoff Swaim.)
OXNARD, Calif. – Considering the Cowboys' draft-day history, it probably wasn't a major surprise they traded a future sixth round pick for an extra 2015 NFL Draft selection. After all, they could have as many as three more selections next year from compensatory picks alone. The fact that it was Geoff Swaim however was a surprise.
After only catching 13 catches for 84 yards over his two years as a Texas Longhorn, Swaim went into the draft with relatively little acclaim, as a primarily blocking tight end. At camp so far, he's actually proved to be more of a receiver. His routes are fairly refined for someone who didn't run many in college, and he has soft hands to extend and catch away from his body.
Interestingly, it's his blocking that seems to need the most work. In his own words, Swaim believes the biggest transition from college to the NFL is "hand placement. In college, you can miss a hand, and replace it, but here, if you don't replace it immediately, you lose. That's the biggest challenge for me. Make sure you get your hand placement right, and if you miss, recover quickly." He has made some really nice blocks so far though, including a great one-on-one block on Greg Hardy in the red zone drills last Thursday. It's just about getting more consistent with his ability to control the defender.
Swaim hasn't have gained the publicity that other rookies have so far. He doesn't have the draft pedigree of Byron Jones, or the swagger of Randy Gregory, or the edginess of Lucky Whitehead, but he epitomises what the Cowboys look for in a player. According to the man himself, his greatest strength as a player is "I'd like to think that I'm a tough guy, and I'd like to think that I'm a hard worker. Hard work is not something that you've ever arrived at. You have to keep working, and you can always work harder."
Here's more of the interview with Swaim:
On his most memorable moment so far:
"Probably the first day we did the pod drill, and I went against DeMarcus Lawrence. That was a little 'welcome to the NFL' moment right there. He's a strong dude and real explosive. It made me realise that I gotta step up, because you can't just manhandle guys, you gotta use technique, because that's what wins in this league. Attitude and toughness are important, but technique is first and foremost."
On his initiation song:
"Yeah, I sung 'Wagon Wheel' by Darius Rucker. I'm not sure how it went. Half the crowd booed, and half of them clapped. They (Tony Romo and Jason Witten) called me up, and I knew all the words, so it (the boos) may have just been because my singing voice that was bad."
On his football idol:
"Jason (Witten). He's been a guy who I've been watching since I was in middle school. I've always watched him and tried to model my game after him. I respect his toughness and the style of play that he does. Not just receiving, but he's a great blocker, and an all-around tight end. Even before I joined the Cowboys, I'd have said the same thing."
On how he's enjoying it so far:
"You dream to get to this point, and then get to play under a coach like (Mike) Pope, and a guy like Jason (Garrett). It's pretty phenomenal."
On his biggest surprise since joining the Cowboys:
"Being here in Oxnard and seeing how many fans are out here in Southern California. That's maybe an odd thing, but it's been my biggest surprise so far."