Darnell Savage is an explosive defender. He is a corner converted to free safety who can play all over the field. His speed is one of his biggest strengths. It is more than straight line speed, he has the burst and agility to stay one step ahead. He is very fluid in his hips when transitioning. Savage can flip his hips without losing a step which is very impressive.
His speed pairs well with his coverage. He is very versatile in his coverage skills. He has the speed and ability to play single high, and he could come down and guard in the slot. Being a former corner, he has no problem coming down and guarding man to man. However, he can really thrive in the back-end roaming free.
He also has a knack for the ball. Savage had an increase in his interceptions every year in college. His speed is a huge help in having a nose for the ball whether that is undercutting a route or flying like a missile to a locked on target. He is always around the ball which is what you like to see in a free safety.
The biggest concern with Darnell Savage is his consistency in tackling. He often misses or whiffs on tackles as he comes in out of control. He needs to be better at breaking down when getting to the point of attack. A safety needs to be a sure tackler because a lot of the time they are the last line of defense. If he can’t figure it out, this will definitely keep him off the field as a young player and could develop trust issues with his coach. This should not be a huge problem moving forward. He needs to learn to continue to use his speed to his advantage, but at the same time control his speed.
How He Fits
Darnell Savage is the type of free safety that Mike Pettine would love to have in his arsenal. He has the versatility that Pettine likes in his safeties. He is a guy who can cover in man or zone and at the line of scrimmage or at the back-end. He also possess the speed the Packers have been missing in the secondary. Savage would fit in multiple packages that Pettine throws out on the field. Last years draft picks showed they were trying to get younger, faster, and more athletic. Savage fits this profile.
He also covers extremely well. Free safety has been a big issue in Green Bay since they lost Nick Collins. Savage could really help shore up the back-end with his speed and coverage abilities. It would also let the corners play a little tighter and even at times riskier. That is a very exciting thing with guys like Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson, Tony Brown, and Kevin King (possibly Breeland). A true free safety with this makeup speed would really put this secondary over the top.
3rd – 4th
This is a guy that you will want to keep an eye on during the combine. He could very well put together a very high SPARQ rating which would put him higher on Gutekunst’s big board. This is one of the few traits we know that Gutekunst loves from last years draft. If he does not test well he could very well fall off the board. He is a very intriguing prospect and this weekend could tell his fate. (on field drills for DBs are Monday, March 4th)