There was not much fanfare regarding the mid-season pickup of D.J. Swearinger. He was a guy cut loose by the Houston Texans because of on the field issues as well as being a knucklehead, from one Battle Red Blog writer:
“He was released for being a bad teammate and an all-around liability on the field for refusing to tackle correctly. Talented player, but he did not fit Bill O'Brien's culture of accountability at all. Clowney has been a much better player since he left the building.”
That’s a heavy burden for a second round draft pick to leave with, but sometimes, that is what a player needs, the opportunity to make up for being a knuckle head. They need a wake up call from the NFL and what it is like to be a mature player.
On the field, there has always been little doubt of what Swearinger could do, coming out of the draft:
From Eric Stoner:
While young phenom defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney is the most prominent Gamecock defender, Swearinger is the leader and Captain of the South Carolina defense, and it's easy to see why. The unit as a whole took on Swearinger's personality, playing with equal part's cockiness and violent reckless abandonment... Swearinger's versatility and ability to fulfill multiple roles within the frame of a defense should make him a highly coveted player... One of the things that immediately jumps out about Swearinger is how versatile he is and how many roles he excels in for South Carolina. Over the course of a game, however, you'll see him line up all over the field. He's played as a center-fielder, can go down in the box as a Strong Safety, and even got a healthy amount of snaps at Cornerback
From Josh Norris:
27. S D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina
Where he wins: Big hitter that can set the tone for a defense. Interchangeable safety in the back half. Showed well at cornerback when asked to play the position, but natural fit at safety. Feisty, downhill player.
Now that Swearinger has found his place in Arizona, with a coach that understands his personality, and a defensive coordinator that has been able to harness his kill shot tendencies, Swearinger is becoming the player so many believed he could be coming out of South Carolina.
He has been perhaps the key to the rise of the Arizona Cardinals defense, as his play in the secondary is allowing the Cardinals to move Tyrann Mathieu around again.
Swearinger has always been the physical menace, there was little doubt about that when he entered the league, but now he is doing it at opportune times, without getting penalized.
On top of that, Swearinger has not been the liablity in coverage that so many worried he would be when he entered the NFL.
Now, the Arizona Cardinals have perhaps the most physical and versatile secondary in the NFL, and D.J. Swearinger is a big reason as to why.