Darnell Savage 2019 NFL Draft Profile

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Darnell Savage
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 04: Defensive back Darnell Savage of Maryland runs the 40-yard dash during day five of the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 4, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Overview
Position: Safety
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 198 pounds
School: Maryland Terrapins

Combine Performance Data
40-yard dash: 4.36 seconds (second-best among safeties)
Bench press: 11 reps
Vertical jump: 39.5 inches (third-best among safeties)
Broad jump: 10 feet, 6 inches (fifth-best among safeties)
Three-cone drill: 7.03 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.14 seconds

Darnell Savage 2019 NFL Draft Profile

Maryland safety Darnell Savage is coming off an impressive four-year collegiate career which saw him improve with every season. Savage appeared in 12 games as a senior, recording four interceptions, two passes defended, 52 tackles, and 5.5 tackles-for-loss. His impressive play earned him second-team all-Big Ten honors as a collegiate parting gift.

Savage contributed to Maryland’s defense from the minute he joined the football program. A two-way player in high school, Maryland opted to play Savage at safety as a true freshman. The Delaware native mostly served as a backup, recording 12 tackles in five games (one start).

Savage emerged as a full-time starter in the 2016 season. Appearing in 11 games, Savage recorded one interception, three pass breakups, 59 tackles, and 3.5 tackles-for-loss. He wasn’t quite on the national radar, but he put together solid tape as a first-year starter.

Continuing to develop as a player, Savage took his play to the next level as a junior. Appearing in all 12 games, Savage recorded three interceptions, eight pass breakups, and 59 total tackles. While he couldn’t quite earn all-conference honors, Savage was named an honorable mention for the team.

Strengths

  • quick reactions on the field and fast break to the ball;
  • able to drop down and cover slot receivers;
  • a smart player capable of diagnosing plays as they happen;
  • a fast player with the range to play deep safety in a Cover-One scheme;
  • high football I.Q. and speed allow him to undercut routes and get interceptions;
  • aggressive tackler with the brains to fill running gaps;
  • high-motor player who never takes plays off.

Weaknesses

  • lacks ideal size and strength for the position;
  • effort will always be there, but doesn’t profile as a great open-field tackler;
  • could struggle against tight ends and bigger receivers;
  • only broke up more than three passes in a season on one occasion;
  • struggles to break up contested catches;

NFL Comparisons: Damarious Randall

Teams With Need at Position: Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants

Projection: Second round

Bottom Line

If Savage were four inches taller and 15 pounds heavier, he’d be a day one selection. Savage is an explosive player with fantastic range and great football I.Q. When playing deep, he has the skill set to diagnose a play and make a break on the ball before it leaves the quarterback’s hands. He’s not the shiftiest guy in the world, but he’s more than capable of dropping down into the slot and covering quicker wide receivers.

The biggest question with Savage is his relatively underwhelming build. Savage’s height, weight, and bench press numbers all ranked within the 16th percentile at the NFL Combine. While those workouts tend to get overblown, these numbers mean he will struggle against bigger, more physical tight ends and wide receivers. While nobody could ever question his motor, his lack of size could make him a subpar tackler at the next level.

Despite that, there’s far more good than bad in Savage’s game. Savage should see time as a third safety as a rookie with a chance to win the starting job as the season goes on. He may never be an All-Pro, but his speed is unparalleled and he’s fantastic at diagnosing plays. These two traits combine to make him an ideal zone safety in the right scheme, even though he does have experience playing man coverage.

Main photo:
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