Tom Savage Is Not Worth Risk as 1st-Round Pick in 2014 NFL Draft

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2014

Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage (7) in action in an NCAA football game between Pittsburgh and North Carolina, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Keith Srakocic

Just because there is a lot of hype over a prospect heading into the NFL draft does not mean that the player will end up succeeding at the next level.

This is what teams need to be cautious of when looking at University of Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage. The talented passer was once considered an interesting sleeper prospect but now might possibly be selected as high as the first round.

Gil Brandt of discussed the recent buzz that is surrounding Savage:

For many reasons, this rise to stardom makes sense. At 6'4", the quarterback has the size to see the whole field with a big arm to make any throw necessary. Although he does not have great straight-line speed (4.97 second 40-yard dash at the combine), he has an ability to slide and buy time in the pocket.

A lot of the things that people like about Blake Bortles can be said about Savage, with an upside being even higher due to his rawness.

ESPN's Louis Riddick is someone impressed at what he has seen on film:

In a Bleacher Report debate with Matt Miller, Chris Simms explained that Savage should be considered as the first quarterback off the board, calling him the "best pocket passer in the draft":

With an impressive 21-to-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio this past season despite playing behind an awful offensive line, it is no wonder NFL teams are intrigued. Former head coach Paul Chryst certainly is not surprised, telling Sam Werner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

You never know what to expect so if you said you’re surprised or not surprised you’d be wrong. He certainly has a lot of the talents and physical attributes. The biggest thing Tom hasn’t done is just play a lot of football. [...]

I think a lot of the buzz that comes before he wasn’t as much a part of because he hadn’t played for two years. I think what he did in the season, the combine, individual workouts, it’s been great to see. Hopefully everyone is right and his stock is rising.

While this was meant to be encouraging for Savage's stock, you cannot overlook the negatives discussed by Chryst. His quarterback missed two full seasons after transferring from Rutgers to Arizona and eventually Pittsburgh for his final year.

Some teams might view Savage's restlessness as a red flag. He did show some promise as a freshman, but he lost his starting job as a sophomore at Rutgers and, at his second stop, he was unable to earn playing time with the Wildcats.

As a result, scouts are generally just looking at what he did this past season, which is a small sample size. People have looked at what he has done in recent workouts and decided the talent is there to succeed down the line, but this is a risky assumption.

Michael Conroy

Bryan Fischer of is upset that people are not considering what Savage did on the field compared to others in the class:

For those that watched Savage play at Pittsburgh, they saw an inconsistent passer who lacked elite accuracy and spent a majority of his time on his back. He rarely left the pocket and was not much of a threat when he did.

Led by Savage, the Panthers offense finished as the No. 81 scoring unit in college football. With Savage having orchestrated so little success in college, you cannot really assume that he will fare much better in the NFL.

Miller is one person who thinks there are plenty of better options in the draft:

This is a deep class full of high-upside players who will be available in each round. Johnny Manziel, Bortles and likely Teddy Bridgewater represent the cream of the crop, followed closely by Derek Carr. On the second day, teams can draft riskier prospects like AJ McCarron, Zach Mettenberger or Jimmy Garoppolo.

Each of these players represents a smarter pick than Savage. They each have the skill necessary to succeed immediately and the talent to improve down the line.

Although the Pittsburgh quarterback has a strong arm, it makes little sense for any team to use a high draft pick on him.


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