South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger didn't hesitate Sunday at the NFL Combine when asked who he models his game after.
"Ray Lewis first and foremost," he responded. "Ed Reed would have to be my second choice."
Next season, Swearinger could have the opportunity to join the Ravens defense and try to continue the long tradition of dominant defense established by the two future Hall of Famers. Swearinger is an early-round prospect in this year's NFL Draft and has been linked to the Ravens in some recent mock drafts.
If the Ravens were to take Swearinger, he could be tasked with replacing Reed should the veteran leave Baltimore in free agency. If that were to be the case, Swearinger sees himself immediately stepping into a critical role.
"I would see myself fitting right in with the Ravens," he said. "Losing their leader like Ray Lewis, I consider myself a leader first and foremost so I think I would go right in and be a defensive leader and get in well with the playbook and get right."
Regardless of what ends up happening with Reed, the Ravens could take a safety early in the draft. General Manager Ozzie Newsome pointed to the safety spot as an area of need this offseason.
Swearinger said that he formally met with the Ravens at the combine.
In a deep draft for safety talent, Swearinger is expected to go in the first three rounds, with some projecting him as a late first-round talent. While Swearinger isn't likely to be the first safety to come off the board, he proclaimed Sunday that he's the best of the bunch.
"I'm the best safety in this draft because I'm a leader first and foremost," he said. "I have instincts that coaches can't coach. You can't coach instincts. I have great ball skills, great feet and hips. I'm going to stay in that film room and be a hard worker day in and day out."
Swearinger, 5-foot-10, 208 pounds, was a four-year starter at South Carolina and developed a reputation as one of the hardest hitters in college football. He has his eyes set on getting taken early and he conceded that getting picked after the first round would be a "total disappointment."
"My mind is on competing and going first round," he said. "That's all my eyes are on. It doesn't really matter what people think. It all comes down to this week."
Some draft experts project Swearinger as a second-or third-round selection, which could make him a value pick for the Ravens later in the draft.
His final draft position will likely depend on what he runs in the 40-yard dash this week, and he said that he's "looking forward to running a 4.4" on Tuesday, which could bump him up some draft boards.
He also emphasized that he can play with anyone, and has total confidence about being a productive player at the next level.
"You can't have any doubts," he said. "The second you doubt at my position, it's six points. You've got to carry yourself with confidence and have a confidence and a swagger about yourself that you know you can make plays and you know you can make things happen."