New England Patriots: Tom Savage

10 Perfect Patriots: Tom Savage

May, 3, 2014
After months of studying the NFL draft, we'll start our list of "10 perfect Patriots", narrowing down the list of prospects to a select group that we feel would be ideal (and realistic) for the New England Patriots, while adding a few draft-related thoughts:

Player: Tom Savage
School: Pittsburgh
Position: Quarterback
Listed height/weight: 6-foot-3 7/8, 228 pounds
Scouts Inc. rank: 4th (scouting profile)
Draft projection: Second/third round

[+] EnlargeTom Savage
Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsQB Tom Savage's stock has been on the rise ahead of next week's NFL draft.
Why he's on our list: Savage has one of the strongest arms among this year's prospects and also an ideal physical makeup. His profile reminds me a bit of current Patriots backup Ryan Mallett coming out of the 2011 draft. He is a double transfer, starting at Rutgers under Bill Belichick confidant Greg Schiano, and showed toughness under adverse conditions last season at Pittsburgh when pass protection often broke down. The combination of physical tools and mental aptitude make him our top pick as the Patriots' developmental quarterback (Mallett's contract expires after 2014 and the team has been exploring the position closely); it's just a question of whether he'll be on the board as his "public" stock has soared in recent months.

A feel for the quarterback class: While there is no Andrew Luck in this class, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper previously noted that as many as 15-20 signal-callers have draftable grades, which is higher than the norm. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said as many as 10 quarterbacks have grades within the first three rounds, which is also higher than the norm. It's a good year to be looking for a developmental quarterback, and the Patriots seem to be doing just that.

Recommended link: Matt Fortuna, writing on's ACC blog, highlights Savage's rise in the draft process. The piece includes a Patriots twist, with Savage seeminly getting a chuckle out of the thought that the Patriots might view him the same way they once did Tom Brady (while we like Savage as a prospect, we think that's highly unlikely).

Key stat: Has only played two full seasons of college football after transferring from Rutgers to Arizona to Pittsburgh.

Workout stat: Hand size of 9.5-inches, which is average for the position and something the Patriots have traditionally placed a significant value on in recent years.

Draft strategy: Quarterback is one of the more challenging positions to project. In this case, it seems safe to say that if the Patriots don't draft Savage with their late second-round pick (62nd), it's probably unlikely he makes it to their next pick at the end of the third round. Texans coach Bill O'Brien once said he wants to build his team in a way that it could compete in all conditions, and that makes me think the strong-armed Savage could a target for them if they don't pounce on Blake Bortles or another top quarterback early. They pick at the top of each round.

Previous entries:
1. Iowa TE C.J. Fiedorowicz
2. Penn State DT DaQuan Jones
3. Nevada OT/G Joel Bitonio
4. Washington State safety Deone Bucannon

Picked-up draft pieces from Mike Mayock

May, 1, 2014
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock held a two-hour conference call on Thursday, and here were some of the things that were notable from this viewpoint:

1. Patriots chatter at 29: Asked his thoughts about what the Patriots might do at No. 29 and beyond, Mayock said tight end Jace Amaro could fill an Aaron Hernandez-type on-field role that would create another dynamic in the passing game. Mayock said he has a second-round grade on Amaro, but specific to the Patriots, he said, "I find that intriguing." Mayock mentioned interior defensive line and safety as two other areas that he felt the club could help itself by addressing, before adding the unpredictable Patriots will likely be busy with trades, as usual.

2. Better quality at quarterback this year: Mayock made the point that he has 10 quarterbacks with grades within the first three rounds, which is much higher than the norm. This highlights the thought that it's a good year for teams seeking developmental quarterbacks, as the Patriots appear to be. Specific to Pittsburgh's Tom Savage, who has seemed to pick up quite a bit of momentum in recent weeks, Mayock mentioned him in the late third-round range. Mayock sees Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Georgia's Aaron Murray as the two quarterbacks most ready to play, while everyone else is more suited to a red-shirt year.

3. Conflicting opinion on defensive line class: We were surprised when Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio pinpointed the defensive line as one of the depth spots in the draft in his pre-draft news conference, because that ran counter to what most media analysts have said to this point. Mayock sees the D-line class as light, particularly at end. Mayock also called this a bad tight end class, and his point on the offensive tackles was notable, saying it's not as good of a class as some suggest after the top group of seven. Mayock likes the guard class, which means there could be some mid-round value there (the Patriots could target that area).

4. Re-telling the Mankins story: Mayock relayed the story about the Patriots' 2005 draft and how it's a good lesson for anyone. The team was coming off a Super Bowl victory and badly wanted to go defense at No. 32, according to Mayock, but the board was picked clean and they instead were flexible in switching to Fresno State offensive lineman Logan Mankins. Ultimately, the team was rewarded for not forcing a need, and that was Mayock's main point -- teams shouldn't lock in and must remain light on their feet to pick good football players regardless of position.