2014 NFL Draft: Scouting Notes from Pittsburgh vs. Syracuse

Tom SavageThis game was an exciting back and forth game, that featured the Pitt defense playing a strong ‘bend don’t break’ style defense in the 2nd half, while its offense made the big plays to get into the end zone. Both teams feature numerous pro prospects who stood out in the game, particularly Aaron Donald and Tom Savage.

Unfortunately, it also saw multiple prospects leave with injuries (Marquis Spruill and Devin Street). Overall it was a classic, hard fought, low-scoring affair between two teams fighting to get into bowl games.

Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh (#7), 6’5, 230 – Was under heavy pressure for the majority of the game but made smart plays to avoid the sack and get rid of the ball. Also showed impressive arm strength when throwing on the move. Came away impressed with his toughness and feel like he’ll be able to make a roster at the next level. Still have questions whether he can start or not.

Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh (#97), 6’0, 285 – Did everything, blocked a kick, activate in run game, apply pressure in pass. He leads the NCAA in TFL due to his quickness off snap and ability to use his hands. Also the reason why he can contribute in the run game. Constantly able to get his hands up and contest the QB’s throw. Feel like his strength is good enough but his quickness will be dominate at the NFL. Believe he is a top-15 prospect at this point.

Marquis Spruill, ILB, Syracuse (#11), 6’1, 224 – Liked what I saw from Spruill prior to him leaving with an upper body injury in the 3rd quarter. He is a high intensity LB who doesn’t ever give up on a play. Due to Syracuse’s unique blitz package, Spruill does a lot of different things in the passing game. Most importantly, he will shift back to the safety position at snap and play deep coverage. With the NFL shifting to a passing league, this kind of LB will be of interest to numerous teams. I expect him to go to a 3-4 defense or become 4-3 weakside backer. Either way, his versatility will need to be taken advantage of. See him as an early 3rd day prospect as of now.

Jerome Smith, RB, Syracuse (#45), 5’11, 226 – Smith is one of the more interesting prospects to me as I see a lot of range in his ability. He is a larger RB but he has strong straight line speed and the ability to move the pile. There’s not a lot of ‘shake and bake’ in him and does move east and west well but the things he does well, he does really well. He picks up the blitz well in pass protection and is a captain on the team, so I see him being able to contribute early on for the team. I expect him to come out this year and be a late day 2 pick.

Jay Bromley, DT, Syracuse (#96), 6’4, 285 – One of the top sack guys in the ACC was my main focus when watching the film today and I came away about the same. He’s very strong inside player who fires off the ball and is able to get some push on inside lineman. He wasn’t very active in the pass rush today and he doesn’t make too many plays in the backfield on the run. He does appear to be a strong anchor and good at holding his ground, although I’d hope to see him add some weight. I expect him to be a Day 2 selection by an NFL and wouldn’t be shocked if he move to a 3-4 defense as a DE.

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