Unless you really follow college football, you may not know who Tom Savage is. He is a quarterback out of Pittsburgh that has transferred 2 times in college. He started at Rutgers, then went to Arizona, then to Pitt. He started all 13 games for Pittsburgh behind a terrible offensive line. He was pressured on almost 30% of his dropbacks, easily the higest out of all the top QB's in the draft.
So why would a guy that never really latched on in college and failed to gain hype during the season all of the sudden become a possibility for the Bengals? Here are some highlights from his draft profile on NFL.com:
Spins a catchable ball. Excellent arm strength to complete NFL throws -- capable of sticking outs from the deep hash or launching balls 60 yards on the money. Experience in pro-style offense.
Tends to stare down his target. Forces some throws into traffic. Erratic accuracy. Slow of foot -- not a scramble threat.
The NFL sites project him as a 5th to 6th rounder. However, other draft experts view him slightly differently. ESPN's Mel Kiper has the Bengals selecting Savage with pick number 88, third round. Kiper says:
"Savage has starting upside, and he's among the strongest arms in the draft," Kiper wrote. "He was beaten up behind bad blocking at Pitt, but is the kind of upside this roster could use behind Andy Dalton."
So is all of this just hype? Is the PR Machine for Savage spinning its wheels at full speed to create a market for a quarterback with a strong arm and not much else? I don't think so. In Peter King's MMQB article from today he mentions that by the April 27th deadline, Savage will have met with 24 or 25 NFL teams. These are meetings with GM's, coaches or coordinators. According to King, the kid literally doesn't have any more room in his schedule to meet with any more teams. It is quite possible the Bengals are one of those teams.
Another draft expert, Todd McShay, has Houston taking a chance on Savage with the 33rd pick overall. That's the first pick of the second round for a QB that was not even near a radar mid season last year.
So for the Bengals, would a 3rd round (or later) selection be worth it for a guy that has a high ceiling but hasn't done much in his career so far? I say yes and here is why. Almost everyone involved in the Dalton debate believes the Bengals needed more talent behind him last season. Most even believe Dalton should be given one more shot this season to prove whether or not he can be the QB this team needs. So in drafting a QB this season, you are essentially getting a guy that could learn for a season behind Dalton and then the true competition begins next year.
If the guy behind Dalton is a guy with a huge arm, who most scouts believe has the potential to be the best signal caller from this draft, but needs time to develop, isn't that the perfect scenario? Sure, one could argue that the guy could fail to improve and never really become a player in the league. But, the same could be said for almost any QB drafted. Ever.
The major knock on Dalton is his arm strength and accuracy on deeper throws. These are two areas where Savage is said to be very good. Imagine if he learns from Dalton and the rest of the team how to finesse the shorter throws, make better decisions and blossoms into what some think he has the potential to be. He could be the steal of the draft.