Round 2 – Maryland SS Darnell Savage, Jr.
5-11, 198 – Senior
Previous Pick: Kansas State OT Dalton Risner
The Buccaneers can go a lot of different directions in the second round. There could be some right tackles available, including Kansas State’s Dalton Risner or Alabama State’s Tytus Howard, or some intriguing Boston College prospects like defensive end Zach Allen or right guard Chris Lindstrom. Tampa Bay could also opt for an offensive playmaker like Oklahoma wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Alabama running back Josh Jacobs or Memphis running back Darrell Henderson.
After selecting LSU inside linebacker Devin White in the first round, Tampa Bay addresses its secondary with Maryland strong safety Darnell Savage, Jr. in the second round. Savage plays like his name – he flies around and hits ballcarriers in a savage manner, packing a big punch for a safety that is barely 200 pounds.
But the Bucs have been investigating several safety prospects, including Savage, Mississippi State’s Johnathan Abram, Delaware’s Nasir Adderly, who was coached by Bucs safeties coach Nick Rapone last year in college. The pick here is Savage because Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles want more speed on the field, and Savage ran a blistering 4.36 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Bucs general manager Jason Licht spent a second-round pick on safety Justin Evans in 2017. Bruce Arians spent a first-round pick on Deone Bucannon in Arizona in the 2014 NFL Draft. Both men know the importance of the safety position, especially in today’s pass-happy NFL, and the Bucs are without a clear-cut strong safety on the roster since last year’s starter, Chris Conte, wasn’t re-signed.
Savage is an ideal defensive back to play in the box because of his striking ability in the run game, and his ability to play man coverage in the slot. Savage has a high football I.Q. and a nose for the end zone, evidenced by returning two of his seven career interceptions for touchdowns for the Maryland defense.
Savage was quite the ballhawk at Maryland, recording eight interceptions in his career, including seven over the last two seasons, to go with 13 pass breakups.
Savage’s Maryland Career Defensive Stats
2015: 12 tackles
2016: 59 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 3 PBUs, 1 sack, 1 INT
2017: 59 tackles, 8 PBUs, 3 INTs, 1 FR, 1 TD
2018: 52 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 4 INTs, 2 PBUs, 1 TD
“He’s got a great eye for the football,” interim Maryland head coach Matt Canada said. “He plays with great passion. And he’s back there, he’s keeping the secondary in line, what to do, makes the calls.”
NFL scouts would love it if he were an inch or two taller and five to 10 pounds heavier, but the trade off might be his speed, which is exceptional. Savage is similar in size to Jordan Whitehead, last year’s fourth-round pick, who wound up starting at strong safety once Conte got hurt, but more physical and a better playmaker. Whitehead is more of a Keith Tandy-type player whereas Savage is more starting material and can help upgrade the talent, speed and play-making ability in Tampa Bay’s secondary.
Click Below For Tampa Bay’s 3rd-Round Pick.