Darnell Savage
Darnell Savage could be the next NFL superstar safety (Paul Sancya/AP)

One of the hot name risers during the 2019 NFL Draft is Maryland safety, Darnell Savage. A lot of times, I don’t understand why a player rises or falls on a draft board. Often times for no reason other than dumb draft politics. In this case, I know exactly why Darnell Savage is shooting up draft boards. The Maryland safety has a chance to become the next superstar safety in the NFL.

I first saw Savage play this year against Ohio State. While Maryland’s defense was torched, Savage was the only reason they didn’t give up 100 points. He was intriguing during the game and I made a mental note of it. Then Savage went to the Senior Bowl and he was probably the best defensive back at the event. Saveage is a free safety but showed an ability to win in man to man coverage on the outside. That’s special for a safety. That’s where it really starts. Savage can play everywhere. Outside, in the slot, in the box, as a robber, or deep.

Once the combine came around, then we really got a good understand how good this guy was. This year, the DB’s were awful at the combine. Stumbling and fumbling like they were on drugs. Not Savage. He just dominated just like he did at the Senior Bowl when he won practice MVP.

The only real concern with Savage is that he missed a couple tackles during the year but it’s not because of a lack of effort. Savage wants to hit people. Savage flys to the football. It’s not hard to miss that 4.34 speed. For a safety that’s 5-11 and under 200 pounds, toughness is no concern.

Savage is at his best as a free safety. He has excellent range and 4.36 speed. Coverage ability puts him over the top. Don’t draft safeties unless they have ball production. It’s a golden rule in the draft. Well, Savage has 7 interceptions the last two years. Big check mark. Check out those instincts. There’s not a lot of players that can make plays on the ball like this.

You have to love the way this guy attacks the ball. That’s so important at the NFL level. Forget just breaking on the ball. His overall coverage skills are off the charts. Over the past two years, Darnell has not allowed a touchdown as the primary defender. He’s also allowing a passer rating of 43.4 when targeted. He just takes great angles on routes and has close out speed on the rare occasion that he actually makes a mistake.

Want to know why Darnell Savage is shooting up draft boards? It’s not hard to figure out. The Maryland safety will find himself in the first round and it’s well deserved.