How Tom Savage Will Fit with the Houston Texans

Brian McDonaldContributor IMay 10, 2014

Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage (7) in action in an NCAA football game between Pittsburgh and Miami on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013 in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

The Houston Texans had to get a quarterback during this year's draft but most expected that it would come during day two in either the second or third round. Instead they waited, likely stayed true to their draft board and picked up impact players at other positions before selecting Tom Savage with a compensatory pick in Round 4.

Tom Savage off the board, #Texans finally take a QB. #HOUpick

— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) May 10, 2014

Tom Savage looks the part but didn't perform at a high level while playing for Pittsburgh and Rutgers. Quarterbacks being taken for their height and arm strength over their production level is nothing new, but a bad decision in my opinion.

At least the poor decision to select a quarterback who looks the part but never produced didn't come in the first round like it did with Jake Locker or Christian Ponder recently, but the fourth round pick they used on Savage still could have been used on a better player at a different need position.

There was a lot of debate leading up to the draft about what type of quarterback Coach O'Brien would prefer as his starter. His big recruit at Penn State was a 6'4'' quarterback named Christian Hackenberg which led some to believe he would look for a quarterback with similar size. Tom Savage does fit that size requirement if you believe it was a factor.

I just don't see it with Tom Savage, not sure what people are looking at when I hear they like his potential and upside. Did Tom Savage lead his team to a great record? No, Pittsburgh went 7-6 last season. Did Tom Savage put up great numbers? No, he passed for under 3,000 yards with 21 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Those numbers are decent, but considering that he played in the weakest of the five major conferences in my opinion, they're not very impressive.

The level of competition Tom Savage faced wasn't great while playing in the Big East at Rutgers or ACC while at Pittsburgh. Last season at Pittsburgh, Savage only faced three top 20 defenses in points allowed per game. The average rank in that stat of his other opponents was just 60th.

Savage came up small in those three games against Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Bowling Green.

  • Against Florida State (first in points per game): 15/28 53.6 percent completion, 201 yards, one touchdown with two interceptions.
  • Against Virginia Tech (11th in points per game): 13/28 46.4 percent completion, 187 yards, with zero touchdowns and zero interceptions.
  • Against Bowling Green (fifth in points per game): 8/13 61.5 percent completion, 124 yards, with zero touchdowns and zero interceptions.

His combined stats against the only three good defensive opponents he faced were not good. Savage completed 52 percent of his passes with 170 passing yards per game and a total of 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions.

That's a quarterback prospect worth developing? I'd love to know exactly what it is the Texans saw in him to make them believe he can be a quality NFL quarterback.

There is more to playing the quarterback position than just height and arm strength as guys like Drew Brees and Russell Wilson have proved. I'd rather have a quarterback with plus accuracy, the ability to quickly go through his reads and get rid of the ball on time, and the ability to anticipate and throw his receivers open instead of having to wait for them to flash open.

Tom Savage hasn't shown on the game videos that I've watched the ability to do any of those things. I broke down his tape from the Florida State game for a Texans blog called State of the Texans. Check out that article for more analysis on Tom Savage.

Dane Brugler of CBS Sports points out the areas in which Savage will have to improve before he can become a good starting quarterback.

Too many poor decisions as a passer, forcing throws and staring down coverage. Leads defenders to his intended target. Questionable vision and eye use. Needs to develop his anticipation to grip it and rip it. Struggles to identify blitzes and consistently read defenses.

Lacks ideal on-field experience for a 24-year-old prospect. Decided to leave two different programs (Rutgers, Arizona) and his commitment and mental toughness will be questioned.

Nolan Nawrocki of saw some of those same weaknesses.

Needs to speed up his clock and show better awareness in the pocket. Needs to quicken his eyes, expand his field vision and learn to manipulate safeties. Tends to stare down his target. Forces some throws into traffic. Erratic accuracy. Slow of foot -- not a scramble threat. Can improve play-action fake. Had some duds -- struggled against Florida State, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Mental toughness needs to be looked into.

Tom Savage isn't ready to contribute for an NFL team. The Texans don't need him to be ready this year but will they be willing to wait two or three years for him to develop?

On top of his overall talent level, what concerns me about the pick of Savage in the fourth round is that I think they'll want to give Savage several years to develop before they're willing to pull the plug if he fails. If that is the case, that would prevent them from being aggressive in next year's draft which could include both Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota.

That scenario would mean that one mistake forced the team into a second mistake. This selection was my worst case scenario for the position coming into this draft.