Before I get round to doing my big board there are two players that I want to look at quickly; Eddie Lackey and Tom Savage.
Neither were on the lists I used when it came to linebackers and quarterbacks respectively, but both should have been at least considered. Lackey I first spotted when inspecting Blake Bortles but then forgot about, and Tom Savage was recommended by a reader as someone to look at and has since generated a lot of attention in the pre-draft press. So let's have a quick look.
Eddie Lackey, Baylor (inside linebacker)
Over the next couple of days you're probably not going to hear Eddie Lackey's name called. And I think that's a real shame.
I really like Lackey. I think he's tough, very clever, plays very instinctively yet still maintains his gap discipline and works just about as hard as anyone else on the field. He's not the greatest athlete in the world and still needs some work on his game, but I think he'd good enough to start in the NFL at pretty much any linebacker spot.
Purely because he's likely to go undrafted I think you would put a sixth round tag on Lackey as it's highly likely he'll still be there, but in a fair world Lackey would be a third round pick I think.
Tom Savage, Pittsburgh (quarterback)
At least if football doesn't work out for him then Savage has a potential career in the bag as a Nicholas Cage look-a-like. Football probably will work out for him though because he's actually pretty good.
Let's get the negatives out of the way first shall we. Deep passing is not great as his accuracy at range suffers. Athletically he's no Manziel or Cam Newton. Sometimes you could argue that he checks the ball down too much and plays too safe. Some of his reads can also be a bit suspect.
Broadly though he's a good quarterback. He works the pocket well, has good footwork and is accurate over short to intermediate distances, though his ball placement isn't always the greatest (for example he often holds up receivers on out patterns instead of hitting them in stride).
He ran a pro style offense in college, though from what I gather the terminology of the play calls was a little simplified so that will take a while to adjust. But you can see why he's been moving up boards and why coaches are interested in him. In an offense such as a West Coast style system he's a perfect fit. He has the perfect set of attributes to come in, sit behind a starter for one or two years, and then slide into the starting role himself.
He's clearly football smart and if nothing else then he has the ability to be a solid and reliable career back up, which in the NFL is actually quite valuable. Ceiling? Your guess is as good as mine because a lot depends on who drafts him. At the risk of people taking this statement and running with it, he demonstrates a lot of similar traits to a certain Tom Brady, someone you might have heard of.
I don't think Savage is as quick with his reads yet and he needs to develop his deep ball accuracy to be worthy of that sort of accolade, but yeah, he's pretty good. I'm not sure if "safe pick" is the right phrase, but it's close. He is certainly a better option - in my humble and largely irrelevant opinion - than Manziel, Bridgewater, Carr, Garropololoulloo... that other guy, and probably even Bortles.
Not sure if he beats McCarron because A.J. is a better deep ball passer and as such does pretty much everything Savage does but with better long range passing, at the cost of being slightly more nervous in the pocket. I'm also not sure he beats Jeff Mathews from Cornell, who I think is on a par with Savage in most areas while at the same time being easily the best and most accurate deep passer in this draft, at the expense of having little experience under center.
I do think Savage has them both licked though in terms of calmness in the face of the pass rush. He's certainly had plenty of experience dealing with pressure behind that Pitt O-line and is basically the reverse of Blaine Gabbert when it comes to handling that pressure.
But Savage is good. I think he's probably worth a second round pick for a patient team that has a long term plan.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a big board to create and time is running out. We're about 17 hours away now. It's a bit like Christmas Day isn't it, only for adults. We should start exchanging novelty football related gifts...
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