Local draft notebook: Pitt's Street, Savage taken 11 picks apart
Devin Street couldn't lie. Watching the NFL Draft the past two days wasn't his idea of relaxation.
“It was a little stressful,” he said, “watching guys get drafted that I feel I'm better than.”
His wait finally ended Saturday when the Dallas Cowboys traded up 12 spots in the fifth round to take Pitt's all-time leading pass catcher with the 146th overall selection.
Street's name came off the board 11 picks after the Houston Texans — with a need for a young, developmental quarterback — took Pitt's Tom Savage with the 135th choice. Savage is the first Pitt quarterback drafted by an NFL team since Alex Van Pelt in 1993, and his selection is the highest since Dan Marino was a first-round pick in 1983.
Street, who concluded his Pitt career with 202 receptions for 2,901 yards and 16 touchdowns, was the 22nd wide receiver drafted over three days. Savage was the seventh quarterback.
“We are driven men. We are hungry,” Street said. “We feel like we slipped a little bit, but we are happy where we went. We are going to put our hard hats on and go to work.”
Street said proving himself to doubters is no new experience.
“I've been battling that ever since I was 9,10 years old,” he said. “It's something I'm used to. It's just going to fuel the fire.”
Street said his first call Saturday came from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
“You get in here and show 'em,” Jones said.
Then, Jones passed the telephone to coach Jason Garrett, who said he spoke with Pitt coach Paul Chryst about Street prior to the draft.
Street also spoke to passing game coordinator Scott Linehan and wide receivers coach Derek Dooley.
Street said the Cowboys told him they had a third-round grade on him. That prompted Jones to swap fifth-round spots with the Detroit Lions and give up a seventh-round pick (229) to ensure they would get Street.
“It's a great fit,” Street said. “It's a team I always wanted to go to. I got that feeling (that the Cowboys wanted him) through the whole process. I wanted to go somewhere I am going to be appreciated, somewhere the organization has faith in me. Dallas had the most faith in me.”
Street (6-foot-3, 198 pounds) said Dooley mentioned the team would like to see him gain weight.
“But he wasn't hell-bent about it,” Street said.
Savage (6-5, 230) goes to a team that is looking to upgrade its quarterback position after allowing longtime starter Matt Schaub to leave for the Oakland Raiders. Savage will join a depth chart led by 10-year veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and Case Keenum and T.J. Yates.
Texans coach Bill O'Brien said his meeting with Savage two months ago at Pitt's pro day was crucial to their decision draft him.
“We had a really good experience with him at Pitt, interviewing him, sitting down with him,” O'Brien said on ESPN.
“He's a good kid, an honest guy. He has grown up in his years in college. We're excited about working with this guy and getting him in our program and teaching him how we do things offensively.”
Savage sat out two seasons after transferring from Rutgers and Arizona. He played only last year at Pitt, completing 238 of 389 passes for 2,958 yards and 21 touchdown while playing through a series of injuries.
Former NFL personnel executive Bill Polian said on ESPN that he believes the Texans might have found their quarterback of the future.
“He has a powerful arm and good feet,” Polian said. “If you are going to develop a quarterback ... you have to have something to work with. And in this case, there is plenty to work with.”
Given his past, Savage knows there are no guarantees.
“I think I obviously have a lot to learn,” Savage told reporters in Houston. “I went 1,024 days without playing football and played one year at Pitt, and I learned a lot from coach Chryst there, but I think I have a lot to improve.”
Savage was drafted ahead of three high-profile SEC quarterbacks: Georgia's Aaron Murray, Alabama's A.J. McCarron and LSU's Zach Mettenberger.
Titans draft Penn State defensive tackle Jones
Defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, who played at least nine games for Penn State in each of the past four seasons, went to the Tennessee Titans in the fourth round (No. 112 overall).
Jones (6-33⁄4, 322 pounds) lost 25 pounds last offseason and ended up leading Penn State with 111⁄2 tackles for a loss, including three sacks. Penn State planned to redshirt Jones in his freshman season of 2010 before injuries forced him into the defensive line rotation. He started 23 games the past two seasons.
The Baltimore Ravens drafted Penn State guard John Urschel in the fifth round (175).
Ramsey to 49ers
Laurel Highlands graduate Kaleb Ramsey, a defensive end from Boston College, was drafted in the seventh round (243) by the San Francisco 49ers. Ramsey played six seasons after suffering a series of injuries to his leg, hip, shoulder, foot, calf and hamstring.
Among local players agreeing to terms with NFL teams after the draft were: Pitt defensive tackle Tyrone Ezell of Steel Valley (Texans), Pitt punter Matt Yoklic of Pine-Richland (Atlanta Falcons), Pitt safety Jason Hendricks (Browns), Robert Morris offensive lineman A.J. Dalton (Lions) and Westminster tight end David Wright (Titans).
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.
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