Mike Mamula, anyone?
No, really. In all seriousness, Tom Savage's draft stock isn't rising quite that high. But for a guy once thought of as a late-round or mid-round pick at best, Savage is quickly moving up in the mock drafts and projections out there. His Draft page on NFL.com called him a fifth to sixth rounder - about where many initially had him. The site recently had a list of sleeper picks and put Tom Savage third.
At this rate, Savage doesn't really belong on the list since it appears everyone knows about him now.
Talk about getting on the bandwagon early - NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock called Savage somewhat of a wild card back in February, saying he had some real upside. That's holding true and a lot of teams are seeing the same thing, apparently. The SB Nation mothership has a little more on the rise and ... rise of Savage.
The former Pitt quarterback had an 'okay' Combine (here's also some quotes from him at the event). As I wrote at the time, he didn't perform incredibly well in comparison to the others at his position. That hasn't slowed him down, though. Things seemed to turn with an impressive Pro Day at Pitt.
Savage has an NFL body - we already knew that. Knew about his arm strength, too, though that's kind of taken on a legendary status lately. There's the toughness factor as well and I think a lot of folks are realizing he was playing behind what was a shoddy and banged up offensive line at times. Big body, strong arm - teams can live with the interceptions or some of the other negatives, like reportedly staring down receivers, and probably figure they can cut back on some of his mistakes with a little bit of teaching and protection.
Buckle your seatbelts - There's genuine buzz around NFL circles about him:
The Tom Savage buzz is legitimate. His name keeps coming up when I talk to decision makers.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) April 8, 2014
And hey, he's the next Tom Brady, too - haven't you heard?
Mel Kiper kind of got the ball rolling a while back a little bit more, projecting Savage in the third round. Things have kind of peaked with Todd McShay's latest mock draft projections, slotting Savage all the way up to the first pick in the second-round ($) for the Houston Texans.
Yep, essentially a first. Round. Pick.
Seems crazy, but ... yeah, not so much when you consider that the quarterback apparently has been invited to the draft - a status reserved for potential early picks.
Look, I'm not going to pretend as if Savage was a bust at Pitt. Truth is, all things considered, he was pretty good, actually. He even showed times of being great. There was the Herculean effort against Duke (23-33 for 424 yards and six touchdowns) and the 313-yard game against North Carolina where Pitt was beaten on special teams. In games against Duke, New Mexico, Navy, Georgia Tech, and Syracuse, he completed more than 65% of his passes. He wasn't perfect in those games, but proved he can be accurate, despite facing some pressure.
Still, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't shocked by this. Someone reaching up to select him in the third or fourth round would have been a major surprise to many. But when you start throwing around first-round possibilities, I mean, come on. That's really a pick that would be based on potential if it happened. We just haven't seen that much out of him to warrant it.
Consider this: Lesean McCoy who was an absolute beast at Pitt and had NFL written all over him didn't get taken until the middle of the second round. Drafting Savage higher than a guy like Shady just seems ... shady.
Overall, though, Savage had a really decent season. He faced some decent competition against the likes of Florida State, Notre Dame, Duke, Virginia Tech, and Miami and performed well. I've made this point before, but while he had some good weapons in Tyler Boyd and projected mid-round pick Devin Street, he still had to get them the ball. Pitt has had other quarterbacks that have had the chance to play with talented wideouts and not made as many big plays as Savage. He can legitimately move the ball downfield with a degree of accuracy.
Regarding specific teams, he recently visited the Raiders. But, they're not the only ones. In fact, Savage has visited with an incredibly high number of teams, apparently:
The deadline for teams to host players or work them out is April 27, and by then Savage is scheduled to have either worked out for or had visits with 24 or 25 teams. That’s an amazing number of workouts and/or meetings
That's one way to improve your stock ... at least as long as you can perform, that is. Show up. Everywhere.
Savage strikes me as the kind of player that could come off well in workouts. He's got the look of an NFL quarterback with his size and since his arm strength is maybe his biggest asset, that's something that isn't one of those intangibles that's difficult to measure.
Good for him. The kid has been all over the place, starting out at Rutgers, bouncing over to Arizona, and then coming to Pitt once Rich Rod headed west. He's a heck of a story and the way things are looking, not being a high-round pick would be the surprise at this point.
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