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May 4, 2014

Pitt, Penn State with lots to offer on draft weekend

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst hasn’t produced an NFL player in his first two seasons.

That is about to change.

Former All-American defensive tackle Aaron Donald is projected as a first-round pick in the NFL draft, and well-traveled quarterback Tom Savage could go as high as the second round.

Wide receiver Devin Street is tabbed as a mid-round selection in the three-day, seven-round NFL draft that kicks off Thursday.

Savage has been creating plenty of buzz in the past two months, during which time he steadily has climbed up team’s draft boards.

“You never know what to expect, so if you said you’re surprised or not surprised, you’d be wrong,” Chryst said. “He certainly has a lot of the talents and physical attributes.

“The biggest thing Tom hasn’t done is just play a lot of football. I think what he did in the season, the combine, individual workouts, it’s been great to see. Hopefully, everyone is right and his stock is rising.”

Savage left Rutgers after the 2010 season and transferred to Arizona. But late in the 2011 season, while sitting out as a transfer, he opted to leave.

Savage landed at Pitt, where he finally played this past year as a fifth-year senior after also sitting out again in 2012 as a transfer.

“Tom Savage does not have the illustrious career that a lot of these other quarterback prospects have, but he’s got the arm strength, the release which grades out as an ‘A,’ (and) the mental makeup,” ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said.

“I think if he gets with the right coordinator and right quarterback coach at the next level, I think he’s got a chance to be a really good starter. I think that’s why Savage has really risen more than any other quarterback late in this process.

“I think when it’s all said and done, he’s a top-40 pick in (the) draft.”

Several mock drafts have Donald listed as a top-10 pick, but a popular landing spot for him in recent days has been No. 14 to the Chicago Bears.

Donald declined an invite to New York to attend the NFL draft and will watch the first round with his parents here in town. Street likely will be taken in either the fourth or fifth round.

“I think for the program, it’s good,” Chryst said. “But most important, you’re happy for those individuals. That’s what really makes it special.”

Penn State could have as many as four players chosen in the draft.

Former record-setting All-American receiver Allen Robinson and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones are both projected as third-round picks.

Offensive guard John Urschel is ranked as a sixth-round selection. Linebacker Glenn Carson also could be a late-round pick despite not receiving an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine.

Robinson, once projected as a first-round pick, has been hurt by the deep receiving depth in the draft and his lack of blazing speed.

“It’s everyone’s dream to go in the first round, but I can’t control that, so wherever I end up going, God has blessed me with being picked by a team,” Robinson said.

“All I can do is stay prepared and ready and once my name is called, show those guys what I can do and earn my spot on the field.”


Follow Ron Musselman on Twitter at @ronmusselman8

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