Ryan Swope was an incredibly productive receiver at Texas A&M.
Over the course of four seasons — three of which were spent exclusively as a wide receiver — Swope caught 252 passes for 3,117 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Then, in preparation for the NFL Draft, Swope ran a 4.34 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, posted a 4.25 second 20-yard shuttle, and showed a 37-inch vertical jump. By the way, that 40-yard dash time was tied for second-best among all the receivers in Indianapolis that week.
At 6-foot and 205-pounds, Swope has good size, too.
Yet, the Arizona Cardinals were able to snag the player in the sixth round because he comes to the NFL with a history of concussions.
“I was a little disappointed, to be honest with you, when that blew up,” Swope told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf about the questions about his health. “My career at A&M, I never missed a game and I’ve always been 100 percent healthy.
“That’s part of it, that’s part of being a football player. You go across the middle and you get hit a couple times, but you’ve got to be a tough player.”
Back in the day, that mentality was expected and rewarded. However, there is a renewed emphasis on concussions and the damage they cause, which is why Swope, for all his talent and toughness, lasted until the 174th pick in the draft.
But as far as the player is concerned, injuries are not — and will not be — an issue.
“I feel great,” he said. “It’s not slowing me down, that’s for sure.”
Swope will be joining one of the team’s deeper groups, as the Cardinals already feature Pro Bowler Larry Fitzgerald along with former first round pick Michael Floyd, mainstay Andre Roberts, and a host of other roster hopefuls.
He views heading to Arizona “as a true blessing,” though, and added he could not be happier with how things worked out.
And, as Swope says, the Cardinals are adding a player whose biggest strength is his ability to read a defense.
“As a slot you’ve really got to get a feel for defenses,” he said.
Of course, he’s also someone who will work hard to learn and improve in his craft, doing all he can to get “mentally right.”
Oh, and he also admitted that his draft slide left him with a bit of extra motivation.
“It gives me a chip, for sure,” he said. “I really couldn’t be happier to be in Phoenix and to be an Arizona Cardinal, but it’s definitely going to drive me and give me that chip on my shoulder and push me that much more.”