Darnell Savage Jr. needs to become a household name come draft time. This elite athlete out of Maryland has a nasty attitude and even has solid coverage experience in the nickel corner spot. This gives whatever team that drafts him a dynamic safety that can play all over the field.
Savage is not a projected first-round pick in most expert mock-drafts. However, crazier things have happened. Former West Virginia safety, Karl Joseph, wasn’t supposed to be a first-round pick, but the Raiders took him 14th overall in the 2016 Draft.
Physically, Savage matches Baltimore Ravens safety, Earl Thomas, standing at 5’11” and 200 pounds. I’m not saying Savage is the next Earl Thomas. So don’t go for the comments just yet saying how crazy this breakdown is.
Now let’s get to the important parts. No, not his impressive combine stats. The real stuff. The notes that actually matter come game time.
- Great instinct. Take a look down below at the two plays. In the first one, you’ll notice Savage reading the quarterback’s eyes the entire way. Having a strong commitment to the ball and returning it to the house for a pick-six. In the second, Savage jumps on a short route before the quarterback even releases the ball, causing a tip to a teammate resulting a pick-six.
- Extremely Athletic. As stated earlier, Savage is an elite athlete. And no, that’s not a joke. As you can see below, Savage is playing zone coverage. Notice how the receiver makes a great cut to the inside leaving Savage behind him after committing to the outside fake. However, Savage still covers his ground and manages to break up the play.
- Great pursuit. While Savage may not be used much in the box when he reaches the NFL level, he definitely has the capability of stopping screen plays, dump offs, and pitch plays as soon as they happen.
- Size. Honestly, while he is the average size for an NFL safety, he is still small compared to the average NFL tight end, who stands four inches taller and 40 pounds bigger. This could be an issue seeing as how safeties nowadays are usually responsible for cover help with tight ends.
- Positioning. Savage tends to get beat downfield once in a while despite having tremendous speed. Notice in this play below that Savage is seen setting up in the box expecting a run. However, the tight end beats him down the field in which may have been a touchdown if not for the bad throw.
Savage’s testing scores even fell into the 85th percentile according to SPARQ. In other words, he’s not some meathead in pads. The kid is intelligent. NFL players who ranked in the 50th percentile are considered “average” players. So, that is also an added bonus to Savage’s already impressive scouting report.
Savage is a solid prospect. Teams like the Seahawks and Packers would be solid fits for arguably the Draft’s most athletic secondary prospect.