Building a Backup: Understanding the Bengals Interest in Tom Savage

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Nov 16, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Tom Savage (7) looks to pass against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the second quarter at Heinz Field. North Carolina won 34-27. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Enter Tom Savage.  A meaty quarterback with a cannon for an arm, Savage is a pocket passer with experience in pro-style offense.  Does that make him worthy of all the draft buzz surrounding him?  Not exactly, but it does make him an interesting candidate.  As a freshmen at Rutgers in 2009, Savage threw for 2,211 yards, 14 TDs with 7 interceptions.  After being bounced around from Rutgers  (he lost the starting job after an injury as a sophomore) to Arizona (who hired Rich Rodriguez as their head coach and implementing an offensive system which Savage didn’t fit ) and finally settling Pittsburgh, Savage came up 42 yards shy of an even 3K this season, completing 61% of his passes for 21 TDs and 9 interceptions.

The general critique against Savage is his accuracy, but his throwing mechanics require attention as well, often striding into throws or falling away completely.  With a need to improve decision making in the pocket and rumors of suspect competitiveness, Savage would clearly be a project.  While the Bengals did host Savage, the intent was far more likely to look at him in the fifth round or later, and not to challenge Dalton (or Campbell for that matter) but for him to fill a third string role on the practice squad.