While most of the post-draft focus has been on Keenan Reynolds, he is not the only former Navy rookie looking to make the most of his NFL opportunity. Running back Chris Swain may not have been taken in the draft itself, but he was one of the first players the San Diego Chargers contacted and signed as a undrafted rookie free agent as soon as the draft was completed.
Interestingly Swain, like Reynolds, is having to learn a new position on the fly to fit in on the Chargers roster. At Navy Swain was primarily a ball carrier, gaining a reputation as a bruising runner between the tackles who was always falling forward when tackled in order to pick up an extra yard or two.
San Diego though has their starting running back set with last year’s fifteenth overall pick in the draft Melvin Gordon filling that role. This means that if Swain is going to make it in the NFL it will be mainly as a blocker for Gordon, with occasional pass catching and misdirection runs going to him out of the backfield. Swain will also have to show in practices and camps that he can be a valuable contributor on Special Teams, something the athletic 6-foot, 249-pounder should excel at.
As with Reynolds there will be the question as to whether or not Swain will be able to play even if he is kept on by the Chargers as they go through their rounds of cuts. One thing working to the fullback’s advantage here is that there is no shortage of temporary work assignment opportunities for a Navy graduate in the San Diego area. The city does actually seem to be a perfect fit, especially considering that Swain has been in the San Diego area both for football games and training exercises over the last couple of years.
The military connection of the city will certainly play a part in the decision to allow Swain to play in the NFL. Publicity and the ability of a player to represent the military in Southern California are big factors that will be weighed before the decision is made. Until then Swain just has to keep working, keep learning the playbook and keep fighting to make the 53 man roster this fall.