By John McMullen, NFL Editor - Archive - Email
Texans finally get a QB
Tom Savage Tom Savage threw for 2,958 yards and 21 touchdowns last season.
New York, NY ( - Tom Savage made three different stops during his college career, a nomadic lifestyle he hopes will change on the professional level.

The strong-armed former University of Pittsburgh quarterback was taken by the Houston Texans in the fourth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday with the 135th pick overall, the seventh signal caller to be selected.

Houston, of course, was expected to address its muddled quarterback situation early in this draft but days one and two came in went as the Texans scored with value picks through the third round.

Superstar defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was a no-brainer for the Texans at No. 1 overall once the organization couldn't extract a king's ransom for his services. After that, though, observers expected to hear the name of a QB every time Houston took a turn.

Instead the Texans found plug-and-play starters at both Nos. 33 and 83, UCLA offensive guard Xavier Su'a-Filo and Notre Dame nose tackle Louis Nix. And in between those two picks, Houston GM Rick Smith was able to garner one of the better two-way tight ends in the draft, the highly-regarded C.J. Fiedorowicz of Iowa.

There was no sense of urgency at the game's most important position, however, leading many to speculate that Smith and new head coach Bill O'Brien were honing in on Tom Brady's backup in New England, Ryan Mallett.

The speculation certainly made sense because O'Brien is very familiar with Mallett from his time with the Patriots and is believed to be coveting, strong-armed cadence callers like the 6-foot-7, 240-pound University of Arkansas product.

The fact that New England selected Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round only fueled things because it seemed like the Pats were searching for Mallett's potential replacement as Brady's caddy.

And in the end Mallett may still end up in south Texas but if he gets there he will have some extra competition because Smith was able to provide O'Brien another Joe Flacco-sized thrower by snaring the 6-foot-4, 228-pound Savage on Saturday.

Savage may have been a little disappointed with his final positioning in the process because a lot of scouts had him rising up their draft boards in the weeks leading up to the draft thanks in large part to his prototypical size and arm strength, coupled with a very quick release.

The problem, however, was his inactivity before he arrived at Pitt and the fact that there just wasn't enough "good tape" on Savage, who began his college career at Rutgers in 2009 and then transferred to Arizona before landing in western Pennsylvania, where he threw for 2,958 yards and 21 touchdowns last season.

"I played my true freshman year at Rutgers and then (as a) sophomore I got hurt and after the fourth game, coach (Greg) Schiano went with the hot hand," Savage said on a conference call with the Houston media after he was selected. "At that time I was just a young, 19-year-old bitter kid who thought that I was entitled to some things, so I decided to get a fresh start elsewhere."

The jumping around certainly soured some on Savage as a prospect and "entitlement" became the buzzword when he was discussed, a sentiment the Philadelphia-area native has fought hard to reverse.

"I think I went to Rutgers as a high recruit, played early, and kind of got sucked into the hype," he admitted. "I played well but I think I became a little complacent with it and I think the best thing for me was to face adversity at a young age and to go through this whole journey because it humbles you and it makes you mature as a man."

Barring Mallet's arrival in Houston Savage will be competing against a triumvirate which includes veteran free agent signee Ryan Fitzpatrick as well as youngsters Case Keenum and T.J. Yates, who have both been given limited opportunities by the Texans in the past but have hardly set the world on fire.

"I'm just going to have to come in there and work and compete and that's all you can really ask for," Savage said. "I think I obviously have a lot to learn and I went 1,024 days without playing football and played one year at Pitt. I think I have a lot to improve. I'm excited to just get in there and start working."

Schiano, the former Tampa Bay head coach, is still a fan of his former quarterback at Rutgers despite the problems he had with him and believes Savage could be the answer for O'Brien and the Texans.

"I think Houston is a great fit (for Savage)," Schiano said on the NFL Network. "Billy O'Brien will do a tremendous job bringing Tom along. Tom is the kind of guy that I think Billy is going to enjoy coaching. Tom is going to grind, he's going to be there, he's going to study, he's going to do the things you want your quarterback to do.

"He's a cool customer. He's going to be a good player in this league."

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