*I originally wrote this for “Play The Draft’s” website, and you can see the full content there (which has commentary on PTD values, other prospects, etc., for those playing the PTD game. There is still plenty of time to join the Fantasy Football Metrics contest on PTD. Use the following link: http://bit.ly/1jwjfrF).
The version below has some new content/wordage added:
I believe that Tom Savage is going to go in the 1st-round of the 2014 NFL Draft now. I also see a path where could be the top QB taken overall. I do not say that for shock value. I do not say that as a proponent of Savage (which I am). I make this claim because I think I see the events lining up that are going to make this happen, and it’s a pattern we’ve seen recently.
The scouting case of Tom Savage is a curious one, and is one that is near and dear to my heart. In January 2014, we completed our research on Savage (full report available at College Football Metrics.com) and determined he was a top-3 QB prospect for this draft, and arguably the best QB in this draft. At the time, NO ONE else was seeing this. Savage was routinely ranked outside everyone’s top-15 QBs for the 2014 NFL Draft in January. Once we released our report, within a few days, Savage was moving near the top-10 of QB prospects, but he had not caught full fire.
In February-March, a domino effect occurred with Savage. When we stated a case for Savage as possibly the best QB prospect in the draft, some key personnel evaluators decided to take a second look based on conversations I had. NFL personnel departments hope to keep things like this quiet, but people talk/leak scouting within the NFL, and the next thing you know Tom Savage momentum hit the media radar in March-April. He has gone from a potential undrafted free agent, to a few months later as a prospect that now sees several Mock Draft projections as the first pick in the 2nd-round to the Texans.
Recent draft analyst’s projections of Savage as the first pick in the 2nd-round is a bit of a ‘cop out’…or weak-kneed trepidation…they haven’t gone as far with Savage as they’ll need to. Heck, some analysts still haven’t moved Savage on their board since January. You see…prospect stories do not normally go like this. The draft media has to be torn here.
The draft media drum has been banged over and over and over and over and over and over that this draft is all about Manziel-Bortles-Bridgewater. The scouting ‘gods’ had looked at all the evidence, and anointed Manziel-Bortles-Bridgewater…and thus everyone parroted the same in the media. All the draft stories in print, TV, and radio surrounded ‘Johnny Football’ or the pro readiness of Blake Bortles or the most NFL ready passer Teddy Bridgewater. Tom Savage might as well not have existed at the time.
Now, the media has been caught with its pants down (and some have yet to realize it). If they start pushing the Savage story/reality harder, it shockingly reveals that NO ONE in the mainstream scouting saw this coming. It is a major, major, major scouting miss. One could ask, and I will ask, “What were they looking at when they missed Tom Savage completely?” Everyone in the draft ‘game’ who began their rankings and ratings with Savage outside their top-15 QBs in January/February will wake up in May 2014 to see him go in the top-40 for the NFL Draft overall; how will they reconcile the huge scouting miss?
However, if draft analysts just ignore this as ‘hype’, and they don’t get on board with Savage’s rapid prospect rise quickly, their Mock Drafts are going to be ancient and out of touch as Savage goes much higher than they are projecting. If the big-name national draft experts are now moving Savage up, the rest of the echo chamber will have to follow…or be perceived as way out of touch.
The reality is: Tom Savage could go as the top QB in this draft. Here is how that could/will occur…
Savage has five main competitors for top QB taken in 2014: Manziel, Bortles, Bridgewater, Carr, and Garoppolo. Regardless of whether you or I think any of these guys is a ‘franchise’ QB, or we discount them as “not as good as Andrew Luck, but good” type of prospects. No matter how we poke holes in their NFL prospectus, one thing is for sure: The QB position means everything in the NFL…EVERYTHING! The QB ‘makes’ franchises…it saves jobs…it makes people ‘geniuses’ (or unemployed). On purpose, Seattle pursued Charlie Whitehurst, Tavaris Jackson, and Matt Flynn before Russell Wilson fell to earth from the planet Krypton, and changed management’s destiny. Where would Denver be today led by their former 1st-round pick Tim Tebow? QBs are going to be taken higher in the 2014 NFL Draft because they mean everything. Of those top six QB names for 2014, I could see 3-6 of them going in the first round…whether deserved to or not.
Teddy Bridgewater had his Survivor torch partially extinguished after his Pro Day, but then once his poor Wonderlic scores hit, and a monsoon descended on his flickering flame. Bridgewater was supposed to be the most pro ready QB available to teams in 2014…like it or not. Bridgewater has pretty much taken himself out of the discussion as top QB…and he may wind up as the 6th taken of the six.
Johnny Manziel has all the media circus, which hides the very real character/’face of the franchise’ questions teams are going to have. No doubt, some NFL team is going be more dazzled by his scrambling around, and discount the off-field stuff. Some NFL team, I think Dallas, will make this move mid-1st-round, but they will not need to make the pick in the top 5-10. Manziel is going to fall because most teams are not interested…they do not want their futures tied to him.
Blake Bortles is really the key to my “Savage as top QB taken” theory. Bridgewater has tanked; deservedly or not. Manziel has red-flags all over. Both Bridgewater and Manziel are physically smaller QBs, not ‘prototypical’ in overall size. It is easy to see injury risk with Manziel-Bridgewater. Because of the fear of Manziel-Bridgewater, the proposed alternative all along is the physically bigger Blake Bortles. It’s easy to hate Manziel-Bridgewater, so all you have left in the mainstream is a Bortles ‘Plan C’. The Bortles theory was: “Nice size, not a polished passer, could be groomed, but he’s more prototypical.” No one was excited by Bortles; they were just looking for a non-Manziel-Bridgewater option.
Guess what? Tom Savage has nice size too. Guess what else? He is a more accomplished passer than Blake Bortles on Bortles best day. I have watched the tape. There are moments of total brilliance with Savage as pocket passer. With Bortles, you have the time he ran for a lot of yards in a Bowl game. Savage v. Bortles, as pocket passers, is no contest.
Savage is the best deep ball thrower in this class…I said that in January 2014, and now others are hinting at it. Savage is not perfect, and ready to be a star day-one in the NFL (what QB is?), but that was always the scouting caveat with Bortles: ”…not ready, needs to be groomed.” When you really look at the tape, you want to do your grooming with Savage, not Bortles. Under the “needs to be groomed” theory, Savage is a far superior NFL prospect than Bortles, and I think most NFL teams know that now.
Derek Carr has always been a step behind Manziel-Bridgewater-Bortles hype. If you insert Savage past Bortles, then Carr is behind Manziel-Bridgewater-Savage. Carr is just not as talented as Savage. Carr is decent and crafty. He was the default mode for those not buying Bortles either. Savage has come along to save the day from teams having to settle for Carr.
Jimmy Garoppolo is the X-factor. I think several NFL teams were holding Garoppolo as their non Manziel-Bridgewater-Bortles ‘ace in the hole’. Garoppolo looks like Aaron Rodgers on tape, but he also played a far inferior class of opponent in college, and does not have the prototypical size you’d love (like Rodgers). There are times I watch Garoppolo and think he is the most talented passing QB in this class. He has a rapid release with nice velocity, with great decision making. Every time I see Garoppolo play, he just aggressively takes it at the opposition…whether against FCS foes, or at the Senior Bowl, or the NFLPA all-star game he snuck into. I like him, and I think many NFL teams do too, but he’s no sure thing either.
When an NFL team does the addition by subtraction realization that Manziel-Bridgewater-Bortles is not what they want. All that is left is Carr-Garoppolo-Savage. Tom Savage is the physically bigger, top pocket passing prospect in this draft. He is the true alternative to Manziel-Bridgewater-Bortles.
Just because teams see Savage as the top QB prospect now, doesn’t mean he will go as the #1 QB overall. However, I see the path where he will do just that.
Many teams wanted to keep Savage a secret, but the ‘cats out of the bag’. If teams thought they could get Savage in the 2nd-round, they will have to think again. Savage has become a hot ‘stock’ that teams will have to chase ahead of the competition for. He is going to be many war rooms’ #1 QB. They will plan and scheme for the next few weeks on when to take him. Rumors will fly. Panic will set in. Remember when the Titans shocked many by taking Jake Locker with their #8 pick. Up to that point, Locker was seen as a late 1st or early 2nd-round pick. Jake Locker, on his best day, is not as good as Tom Savage. Who saw E.J. Manuel as the only QB in the 1st-round last year? E.J. Manuel is nowhere near as good a pro prospect as Tom Savage.
There has been more and more shock (and outrage) by QBs taken earlier than experts foretold, so there is a precedent (Locker, Weeden, Manuel, Ponder come to mind)
Savage is not an ‘it’ QB today because there is always a cute ‘it’ prospect that people need to talk about later in the draft process out of boredom with the other over-saturated QB names. Savage is the ‘it’ QB right now because he is legitimately in the argument for the best QB in this draft. The path exists where he could be the first QB off the board on draft day.
If/when it happens…will anyone ask the football scouting ‘gods’ why they did not see this prior to April 2014?
You should be asking it already…
tags — 2014 NFL Draft Tom Savage dynasty rookie mock draft 2014