Must improve his ability to work through progressions
Not a true dual-threat quarterback
Needs to improve accuracy
Needs to improve footwork
Only played two seasons
Sat out two seasons due to transferring twice
Had a concussion in college
Summary: Every year, there are some prospects who have a late rise in the months between the season and the draft. Savage is a poster child for that this year. Considering the odyssey of his collegiate career, it is easy to see why Savage went under the radar in 2013 and the early portion of this year.
Savage started out his collegiate career at Rutgers in 2009. As a freshman, he threw for 2,211 yards and 14 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Savage lost his starting spot as a sophomore because of an injury. He then transferred from Rutgers to Arizona, but after a coaching change there, he transferred again - this time to Pittsburgh. Savage was forced to sit out the 2012 season before playing well for head coach Paul Chryst as a senior.
In 2013, Savage completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,958 yards with 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He had a massive game against Duke with 424 yards and six touchdowns. The senior lit up North Carolina for 313 yards and two scores. He also had some underwhelming performances against Florida State and Virginia Tech. However, Savage showed improved decision-making and accuracy during the second half of the season. He had six interceptions in the first four games, but threw only four more picks across the final nine games.
Savage has a skill set to work with, but he is raw and inexperienced entering the NFL. It helps that Savage's two years as a starter were in pro-style offenses, but he still didn't get as much developmental playing time as one would like. Savage has big size, pocket presence and a strong arm. He can rip the football on deep outs and throws fastballs into tight windows to make completions. Savage can throw the long ball well and can put nice touch on passes. While he doesn't provide a real running threat, he does pick some good spots to use his legs and catch defenses by surprise.
For the NFL, Savage needs development in his field vision. He has to get faster at working through his progressions, too. Some teams question his commitment level after his college experience, but WalterFootball.com has heard that Savage has interviewed well and was accountable for some of his mistakes.
As a pocket passer, Savage has the physical skill set to be a starting quarterback in the NFL if he develops well. For Savage to pan out, it is critical that he lands with a good, stable coaching staff that is allowed the time to develop him. Savage is on the radar of the quarterback-needy teams that are considering waiting to draft a quarterback until after the first round. Some are looking at him as a potential diamond in the rough as a second-day pick.
Player Comparison: Chad Henne. If Savage develops, he looks like he could become a better version of Henne (6-4, 230). Both of them are thick pocket passers with the arms to make the necessary throws. They can be inconsistent with accuracy and decision-making. Henne was a second-round pick by Miami, and Savage could easily go on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft.
NFL Matches: Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Arizona, New England, Green Bay, Chicago
There are a lot of teams that could target Savage on Day 2 of the 2014 NFL Draft. Savage would be a great fit for the Texans to start off the third round. Houston needs a quarterback, and after taking first-round talents at picks No. 1 and No. 33, the organization could look to Savage to start the third round.
The Jaguars have a massive hole at quarterback and have been looking hard at all the quarterback prospects. Savage could make sense for Jacksonville in the third round. The Browns are another team in dire need of a franchise quarterback, and if they use their early picks elsewhere, they could target Savage on Day 2.
Oakland needs a quarterback, but the Raiders may decide to build up their roster and hold off on taking a quarterback after trading for Matt Schaub. That being said, Savage would be lucky to land with Raiders quarterback guru Greg Olson.
Tampa Bay could consider Savage. Lovie Smith could groom him behind Josh McCown for a year or two before handing the reigns over to Savage.
The Vikings could aim to grab Savage with one of their third-round picks. He would be a nice project for offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
The Cardinals, Patriots, Packers and Bears all are set with their starting quarterbacks, but they each of these teams need a backup. Savage could be groomed to eventually take over the starting spot in Arizona or New England. There have been reports that the Patriots like Savage a lot.