NFL Prospect Focus: Tom Savage

During the season, I watched about three games on Savage and felt he was an average prospect. He had size and a strong arm, but I didn’t see much else to say that he wasn’t more than a late round pick or priority free agent. In recent weeks, Savage has made some visits and the draft analyst community has him going as high as the second round. Seeing that, I felt I'd better watch some more tape to see if I was missing something.

Tom Savage – Quarterback – Pittsburgh

Size – 6037 – 229 – 4.97

Strong Points – Has excellent size, plays in a pro style offense, once he makes a decision the ball is out of his hand quickly, arm strength, throws a tight ball, flashes short to medium range accuracy

Weak Points – In his five year college career, he was at three different schools, didn’t play in a game in 2011 or 2012, inconsistent decision making, inconsistent reading defenses causing him to make poor decisions, lacks mobility and gets sacked a lot, very average ability to extend plays, average athlete.

2014 Stats – 389 attempts – 238 completions – 61.2%, 21 TDs – nine interceptions

Summation – Savage is a fifth-year senior and a two-year starter. He originally enrolled at Rutgers in 2009 and started 11 of the 12 games he played. In 2010 he played in six games, starting four. He lost his starting job due to both a hand injury and ineffective play.

After losing his starting job at Rutgers, he transferred to Arizona and had to sit the 2011 season as a transfer. After feeling that he wasn’t a fit for the Arizona offense and wasn’t going to get playing time, he transferred to Pitt in 2012. Again, he had to sit out the season as a transfer. He started every game in 2013 for Pitt, compiling a 7-6 record.

Savage has excellent size at 6037 – 236, but that is a far cry from the 6’6” that Pitt listed him as being. While he lacks speed (4.97) he has some short area quickness, but not enough to scare defenses.
He plays in a pro-style offense with pass plays coming from both under center and in the spread. When playing from under center, he shows good setup quickness and usually stays in balance in the pocket. He has adequate feet but little mobility. His feel for pass rushers is adequate, and he takes a lot of sacks. He doesn’t have the mobility to do a consistently good job extending plays with his feet. He will only run if he has to.

Most of Savage’s production comes on short to medium range passes underneath the coverage. He shows he can go through a progression, but you seldom see him going back to his first read. When not pressured, he can make some good shorter throws, showing better than average accuracy and ball placement. He has a fairly tight delivery, and once he makes a decision, the ball is out of his hands. He usually throws a tight, catchable ball.

He will flash on some deeper throws, and I have seen some very good longer throws, but his overall long/deep accuracy is average. He can have some trouble reading the center of the field, and I have seen a number of plays where he doesn’t see the backside safety. On these types of plays, the ball either gets intercepted or broken up. In the Florida State game, this happened a lot. He threw two interceptions and very well could have thrown four (drops).

Savage has talent but is still raw. 2013 was his first extended playing time since his true freshman year in 2009. He has two things that pro teams love: size and a strong arm. His instincts and feel for the game are only average, and at this time, I see him as strictly a developmental quarterback. He will need time and coaching. His mobility will never improve, so he has to become a quicker decision maker and, of course, make the right decisions.

Where we have seen some people project Savage as a second round player, I can’t say that. He may never be better than a third quarterback. I feel it is fair to say that he could get drafted as high as the fourth round. Players like Russell Wilson and Kyle Orton who went in the third and fourth round respectively were much better college players. While I do see some developmental traits, there are a lot of unanswered questions. The most important being why did he transfer twice. If it’s because he wanted a job handed to him, he will never succeed.

Grade C 6.4

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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