Scouting quarterbacks

Former NFL general manager Phil Savage shared his thoughts on WGR

Howard Simon
February 27, 2018 - 6:07 pm

Photo: John David Mercer - USA TODAY Sports

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With media availabilities during the week and on field drills set to begin on Friday, you can bet the quarterbacks will be a hot topic at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. All six of the players considered to be in the top group will be on hand, although Sam Darnold from USC will not be throwing during Saturday’s quarterback workouts. The combine is another part of the evaluation process for the Buffalo Bills and the rest of the NFL. Before the April 26-28 draft, teams will travel around the country to attend pro days and they can bring up to 30 prospects into their facilities for an up close and personal visit.

Two of the more intriguing quarterback candidates are Heisman trophy winner Baker Mayfield from Oklahoma and Josh Allen of Wyoming. Their offseason evaluations by pro scouts began last month when they took part in the Senior Bowl. Phil Savage is the Executive Director of the Senior Bowl, so he had the opportunity to watch Mayfield and Allen during the week of practices, in addition to the Senior Bowl game itself. Savage, who is a former Director of College Scouting for the Baltimore Ravens and was later the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, was a guest on WGR on Tuesday.

When it comes to Mayfield, one of the concerns being raised is his height which is not ideal by NFL quarterback standards. He came in at 6-foot and 3/8 inches at the Senior Bowl.

“If I’m the GM and we want to fall in love with Baker Mayfield, we better all be on board knowing we are going to have to manage and work with a six foot quarterback because he’s not getting any taller” Savage said. "For a lot of scouts and a lot of personnel people that is an issue for them. It's not as much as it was maybe 10 or 12 years ago, but the reality of it is that you have to accommodate your offense for a six-foot quarterback. You’ve got to be willing to do that for a long period of time. I think he’s good enough to play but he’s got to find the right environment where someone is willing to work with him.”

As for Allen, his stature is not a problem nor is his arm strength which is exceptional. Allen’s accuracy or lack thereof is his biggest issue. In two seasons as a starter at Wyoming, Allen completed 56-percent and 56.3-percent of his passes.

"With Josh Allen you have to hedge your bet and roll the dice.You say you know what he is today but what do we think he can become in 18-24 months” Savage said. There are a lot of evaluators that don’t think that accuracy can be coached up. If you don’t believe that then you should probably stay away from him. If you buy into the arm talent, buy into the athleticism, buy into the fact that he really only got two years of quality starts under his belt at Wyoming then he might be your guy. Conceivably he could be the first pick in the draft. There’s no doubt he’s got the best arm of any of these guys."

Savage also covered Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph during his conversation with us. He also talked about the challenges facing Bills general manager Brandon Beane if he needs to move up in the draft to get the quarterback he desires.

Here is the interview in its entirety:

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