Vikings Draft Targets: Tom Savage Reminds Gil Brandt of Troy Aikman


Dec 26, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Tom Savage (7) during the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl against the Bowling Green Falcons at Ford Field. Pittsburgh Panthers defeated Bowling Green Falcons 30-27. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh QB Tom Savage had zero buzz going into draft season, but that’s going to change as draft experts, searching around for new players to tout instead of the same stale oft-repeated names, begin lining up to climb on his bandwagon.

One early Savage bandwagon jumper is Gil Brandt, old school scouting mind. Brandt loves making comparisons as we learned when he drew a parallel between Johnny Manziel and Fran Tarkenton. Brandt is at it again with Savage, comparing the young quarterback to Troy Aikman.

Yes, the same Troy Aikman who was once tutored by Norv Turner.

Is it a stretch to think that Gil Brandt and Norv Turner might be thinking along the same lines with Tom Savage?

In case you’re not familiar with Savage, he is what you might call a mystery guest in this year’s draft class. The 6-4, 230 pound QB was a big-time prospect coming out of high school, but his college career never took off the way people expected.

His career began promisingly when, as a freshman in 2009, he became starting QB at Rutgers. Savage compiled a very good first season at Rutgers and looked on his way to becoming a stud. But 2010 went all wrong for him. A hand injury knocked him out of action, and even when he was able to return, the coach left him on the bench behind his former backup Chas Dodd.

This situation prompted Savage to transfer to Arizona, which forced him to sit out a year under NCAA rules. But as it turned out he would never play for Arizona. The team hired Rich Rodriguez, who runs a spread scheme not suited to Savage’s abilities, and the QB decided to transfer again.

Savage attempted to return to Rutgers, but the NCAA denied his request. He then transferred to Pitt and had to sit out 2012, making it two years in a row without action. In 2013, his final year of eligibility, Savage was named starter at Pitt by Paul Chryst, going on to throw for almost 3,000 yards and 21 TDs.

You can see why Savage is regarded as such an unknown quantity in this draft. He only has two full seasons under his belt as a starting QB. A bruised kidney suffered late in the 2013 season put him further behind the curve by making him unable to participate in the East-West Shrine Game. But he is now becoming a popular sleeper pick among draft wonks.

Kevin Weidl of Scouts, Inc. touted Savage in a recent ESPN Insider piece, saying “Savage is far from a finished product. However, he displays a physical skill set that translates well to the next level. In addition, he is built for the inclement weather, and teams such as the Jets, Bears, Bills, Packers and Bengals looking to add a developmental backup to their roster could find strong value for Savage early in the Day 3 range.”

If the Troy Aikman comparison has any legs, Norv Turner will have to be at least somewhat intrigued by Savage as well, you have to believe.

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