NFL free agent signings are typically a chance for undrafted players to get a chance at making an NFL roster.
Usually these players are a bit too slow, or too small, or sometimes too troubled with problems on or off the field. In the case of Erik Swoope, the latest NFL free agent signed by the Indianapolis Colts, it’s a complete lack of experience that kept him from the draft.
Swoope has never played organized football in his life, not even in youth league. The basketball star said when he was a kid he was too big to play in Pop Warner with his age group, and by the time he reached high school was already focused on basketball.
But the Colts studied his work as a power forward for the University of Miami’s basketball team and saw potential, along with a 6-foot-5 frame that could make the California native into a powerfully effective tight end.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Swoope said Sunday. “The past few days have been crazy. My birthday was Thursday. Graduation was Friday. I got an opportunity with Indianapolis on Saturday and now I just got off a plane in Indianapolis.”
Erick Swoope is one of the unlikeliest NFL free agent signings this year, especially considering he never pursued a career in the NFL. Back in March, Swoope’s coach Jim Larranaga got a call from a scout with the Denver Broncos asking if the power forward would be interested in scheduling a workout before the NFL draft.
The Broncos saw Swoope’s explosive athleticism and giant frame as a perfect fit, a mold that worked for other former basketball players like Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham.
So Swoope hit the weights, adding strength and developing pass-catching skills. He also worked out with Graham and former Miami football player Jonathan Vilma.
“They tried to teach me some basics and help me get a feel for the reads I’d be making as I ran my routes,” Swoope said. “I know it’s going to be a bit of a process, but the thing I have control of is I need to be an athlete when I’m out there and I get my opportunities. If anything, that’s the key takeaway they both tried to hammer home when they spoke with me.”
Experts say Erik Swoope will have a hard time cracking the Colts roster, with Coby Fleener and a healthy Dwayne Allen solidly ahead of him, but the Miami product is still one of the most interesting NFL free agent signings in years.