NAME: Darnell Savage Jr.
CONFERENCE: Big Ten
JERSEY: No. 4
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
WT: 191 lbs
D.O.B.: Not Available
Coverage Spacing -Ample range but some lapses on the back end when tasked with playing single high. Can be a bit too eager to jump down into the first route to develop and cross his face. Short area quickness allows for impressive click and close when leveraged over top of targets.
Acceleration -Plenty of burst when driving into the play. Can make up ground as a zone defender and arrive in timely fashion. Long speed is adequate and will serve him well as he develops if team looks to implement as a true free safety.
Tackling -Will lay the wood on runs and shallow passes that he’s able to build steam into. Comfortable adjusting his angles on the fly and greeting the ball with pads and hips aligned. Will occasionally throw a lazy shoulder trying to go for big hits.
Zone Coverage Skills -Instincts flash best in robber coverage and in the hook/curl areas. Guilty of tunnel vision in spurts, trusting landmarks is paramount in future implementation as a deep defender. Eagerness to make a big play in pursuit can betray his role at times.
Ball Skills -Takes strong angles to the football with the ball in flight. Anticipatory breaks on the ball have led to a lot of ball production, set career highs in plays on the ball in 2018 as a senior. Shows good hands and natural skills as a returner after a turnover.
Competitive Toughness -Mean, nasty hitter who moves at a different speed than his teammates in pursuit once locked onto the football. Has a great sense of fighting through contact on the edge and working to discard of blocks as a support defender.
Flexibility -Has effective range of motion below the waist to produce suddenness on a plant/bucket step to spring out of a pedal. Mobility and body control flash most when tasked with tackling in the open field, shows good tackle radius to finish reps.
Feet/Change of Direction -Provides best reps in off coverage, especially against shallow route stems to take 90 degree breaks in pursuit of the route and transitioning into the hip pocket. Needs to gear down and come to balance when arriving at the catch point as a support tackler.
Man Coverage Skills -Athletically matches up well against slot receivers and even tight ends thanks to desirable play strength and explosiveness. Turn and run transitions look smooth but patience isn’t at level to play press in the nickel with consistency.
Versatility -Reasonable upside to play deep middle, deep half, man to man, box safety, nickel defender and as a blitzer. Immediate role may be best served as a third safety to add further polish to his game and ensure he’s processing priorities correctly.
BEST TRAIT – Tackling
WORST TRAIT – Coverage Spacing
BEST FILM – Texas (2018)
WORST FILM – Michigan (2018)
RED FLAGS – None
Darnell Savage projects favorably as a Cover 2 safety in the NFL. Savage has the needed athletic skills to be a starting defender in the NFL, although he’ll need to be protected from his own aggressive mentality and learn some tackles don’t need to be made. Early role should feature a ton of special teams and being implemented in sub-packages. Higher ceiling prospect in a thin Safety group, Savage possesses all the tools needed to be an eventual starter and play at a high level.