Scouting Report: Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh

Scouting Report: Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh

A QB accustomed to change
By: Pete Davidson : May 07, 2014 11:45am

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Tom Savage has had quite the journey as a college quarterback. His timeline starts in Rutgers back in 2009 and then heads to Arizona, and finishes in Pittsburgh in 2013. The good news for Savage is that, like George Costanza, he left on a high note.  Savage punched his ticket to the NFL by leading the Panthers to a 7-5 record in the ACC, while throwing 20 scores and 2,854 yards against 9 picks.

Savage was available to the media at the Combine and this was the takeaway quote for me. Here’s what Savage had to say about playing in three different programs.

“I’ve been in three different systems, probably four or five different offensive coordinators. I don’t even know anymore ... I’ve been to so many schools. You kind of have to pick it up on the run. You have to learn on your own. At Pittsburgh, I had to walk on and earn my spot. I had to pick up the offense and learn it by myself. Being ineligible, you can’t offer too much to the team. You really have to grind in the film room and pick it up on your own ... kind of like the NFL will be. There will be veterans that know the playbook. They’re not going to slow down for some rookie.”

It’s always a good sign when a young player has a grasp of reality, and while it may be seen as a negative that savage bounced around, at least it toughened him up mentally. He sounds like the kind of player who won’t require a lot of hand holding.

Savage’s Combine performance wasn’t exactly one for the books, but he did impress at the weigh-in. Let’s take a look at his numbers.

  • Height - 6’4”
  • Weight - 228
  • Hands - 9 5/8”
  • 40 - 4.97
  • Vertical Jump - 27”
  • Broad Jump - 105”
  • 3-Cone Drill - 7.33
  • 20 YD Shuttle - 4.36

Those are not embarrassing numbers for a pocket passer, but they aren’t anything to get excited about either.

Things we like about Savage.

  • Size - As much as we’ll defend smaller quarterbacks who have the requisite ability, we don’t deny the advantages that size provides. Being able to see over the line of scrimmage is a big plus for guys like Savage. You can’t teach six foot four.
  • Arm - Savage has a big arm without question. He can make just about any throw you’d ask a quarterback to make from the standpoint of arm strength.
  • Demeanor - I like quarterbacks who don’t show panic and Savage qualifies. He’s got calm feet and he’s not easily rattled.
  • Reads - As I said, Savage is calm and he works through his reads like an NFL quarterback. This was pretty impressive for a guy who had a long layoff going into 2013.
  • Awareness - Savage keeps his wits about him in an often turbulent pocket and that’s something we definitely like to see. He’ll make a poor choice here or there, but he handles havoc well for the most part and can step up in the pocket and make good throws.
  • Drops - Savage played in a pro style offense and he’s well versed at playing under center. His drops are solid, though we see inconsistencies with his back foot that ought to be addressed.

Here's a good look at Savage versus the National Champions.

Here's a look at Savage last season versus Syracuse.

As I said earlier, Savage is a nice natural thrower and it really shows on passes to his right where he doesn’t need to struggle to bring his hips through. Savage throws with an open back foot (plant foot) and this limits and or negatively affects hip rotation. This makes Savage a little less consistent on throws to his left and sometimes to middle of the field as well. Savage has a big arm and a big body and that helps him make some arm throws, but improving his footwork is the key to his continued improvement from what we see. And, in fairness, I do see Savage use a good base at times. It appears that he’s aware of the issue and that’s a positive.

Savage could also benefit from a NFL strength and conditioning program. He bounced around three different systems with two redshirt years and it shows a bit. A full-time commitment at the NFL level might help Savage improve his agility a little, and every little bit helps. Savage lumbers a bit on roll outs and is not quick to react to changing situations in the pocket. Again, some of this could be attributable to not playing enough.


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