While NFL scouts and pundits didn’t totally agree with the Packers’ draft selections at #12 and #21, no one denies that both players bring some incredible athleticism to Green Bay.
Rashan Gary, Draft Choice #12
Sam Hellman of 24/7 Sports, in a comment made before the 2018 season, says the “freak” label goes back to Gary’s high school days:
Ask any recruiting analyst in the New Jersey area during the high-school career of Rashan Gary and the latest accolade for Michigan’s standout defensive lineman is no surprise. Gary used a freakish athleticism to win multiple championships at the high-school level.
Heading into a junior, and potentially final, year at Michigan, Gary ranks as college football’s biggest freak athlete, according to Bruce Feldman’s annual list.
“The 6-foot-5 Gary is at the same weight he was at this time last year — 287 pounds — and his 40-yard dash time is the same at 4.57 seconds,” Feldman wrote. “His 3-cone drill at 6.79 was a touch behind last year’s 6.70, although his time this year still would beat every defensive lineman at this year’s NFL scouting combine. His 4.22 pro agility shuttle time also would top every D-lineman at the combine. Next best was 4.32. Another really impressive feat: his 10-4 broad jump, which was 8 inches better than what he did a year ago.”
Gary has always let his play do the talking dating back to his days as the nation’s No. 1 recruit. But in this case, mom could not help but weigh in.
“I don’t know if I like my son being called a freak,” she wrote. “But in this context, I can live with it. Proud momma.”
A pundit called TheOriginal629 had this to say:
“Rashan Gary came into Michigan with high expectations and did not disappoint for the most part. He has been recognized as one of the most freakish athletes in sports today.”
The guys over at Rotoworld had this to say:
“A known athletic freak, Gary predictably destroyed the Combine with 4.58 speed and 96th-percentile SPARQ results but bombed the Wonderlic Test (9). A boom-bust prospect. . .”
saturdayblitz.com put it this way:
“Rashan Gary is a freak athlete, there is no other way to really put that. He was a great edge rusher at Michigan, showing outstanding speed and quickness. He has an excellent combination of height, weight, length, speed and athleticism that is unmatched by many of the other guys in this year’s draft class. He has all the tools and the size to be an NFL defensive end including the closing speed and extremely active hands.”
Silverandblackpride.com, a fan site for the Raiders, thought Gary might be taken with the Raiders’ fourth overall pick:
“Last year, Jon Gruden traded down in the draft for freak athlete left tackle Kolton Miller. This year, freak athlete edge-rusher Rashan Gary is in the draft. Will Gruden bite?”
Darnell Savage, Draft Choice #21
Bucky Brooks of NFL.com is all-in over the Packers’ pick:
“Darnell Savage is a monster. Not surprised he made his way into the 1st round after hearing coach after coach rave about him. Packers get a FS with great instincts, awareness and range. Plus, he’s a tough guy.”
ESPN analyst Matt Bowen (a former NFL safety) predicts that Packers rookie Darnell Savage will win the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year (DROY) in 2019. Bowen adds:
“Savage can close on the ball with immediate speed, and his playmaking versatility in the secondary gives defensive coordinator Mike Pettine some real options in the game plan. Play Savage in the post, roll him down in coverage over the slot, or allow him to blitz in sub-package schemes. I would love to coach this guy.”
TP’s Ed Rooney points to his versatility:
“At 5′ 11″ and 198 pounds, savage has an athletic, strong build and has good quickness and sub 4.4 speed to cover both quick and big receivers. He displays good cover skills knowledge and has great ability to close in on passes, as displayed by his interception totals at Maryland.”
Kevin Seifert – who formerly covered the NFC North for ESPN, agrees:
“Savage is a speedy playmaker who is known for anticipating throws and getting early jumps on the ball. (DROY) voters usually notice, and often reward, defensive players who pile up tangible statistics such as sacks, interceptions, passes defensed and forced or recovered fumbles. That should put Savage in the mix, given that there is likely an immediate starting job awaiting him.”
Sam Monson, Pro Football Focus, raves about his unique skills:
“Few safeties attack the play the way Savage does, and his burst to the football once he sets off is something no other safety in this class can match. . .Over the past two years, the passer rating Savage has allowed when covering the slot is the second-best mark in the draft class. Savage is a versatile, impact safety for 2019’s NFL and just so happens to fly to the football like a guided missile on many of his plays.”