Darnell Savage is officially Maryland football’s highest defensive draft pick since 2005, as the Terps safety was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft with the 21st overall pick by the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night.
Savage joins the Packers after four productive seasons in College Park. He came to the Terps as a cornerback, but switched to safety in 2016 and started 36 of 37 games over the next three seasons. In those seasons, he recorded 170 total tackles, nine tackles for loss and eight interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. Savage was a consensus Second Team All-Big Ten selection in 2018 after earning an honorable mention the year prior.
Throughout the draft process, Savage’s athleticism has kept his stock on the rise. While somewhat undersized for an NFL safety (5’11, 198 pounds), he turned heads with a strong performance at the combine in March. Savage ran the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds, second-best among defensive backs, and recorded a 39.5-inch vertical jump, third-highest among safeties.
In the days leading up to the draft, Savage climbed up big boards and into the first round of several mock drafts. He had been spotted mainly in the mid to high 20s, but surpassed even those projections. Green Bay traded up to take him, grabbing the 21st pick from the Seattle Seahawks. It’s a talented draft class at safety, but Savage was the first one selected.
Since linebacker Shawne Merriman was taken 12th overall by the Chargers in 2005, Maryland had no first-rounders and just two second-rounders on the defensive side of the ball. Cornerback Josh Wilson went No. 55 in 2007, while Sean Davis went 58th in 2016. That’s strong company for Savage to join, and he’ll come to Green Bay with a chance to win a starting job.