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Maryland Indiana Football

The Green Bay Packers selected Maryland safety Darnell Savage with the No. 21 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft on Thursday night. 

GREEN BAY — Brian Gutekunst didn’t think the safety he liked best in the 2019 NFL Draft — Maryland’s Darnell Savage — was going to last until the 30th overall pick. So the Green Bay Packers' second-year general manager did something about it.

Gutekunst sent both of the Packers’ two fourth-round picks — Nos. 114 and 118 — to the Seattle Seahawks to move up nine spots from No. 30 to No. 21 to take Savage, his second defensive pick in the span of nine selections. The Packers took Michigan defensive end/edge rusher Rashan Gary with the 12th overall pick.

Before the draft, Gutekunst had said that his defensive free-agent additions in March — outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith and safety Adrian Amos — wouldn’t preclude him from taking players at those positions in the draft. As it turned out, his first two picks were spent on those exact positions.

The 5-foot-10, 198-pound Savage, who turns 22 in July, was a three-year starter at Maryland and ran a blazing 4.36-second 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine.

He started his college career at cornerback but moved to safety after his freshman year, going on to start all 12 games each of his final three seasons for the Terrapins, registering eight interceptions and 22 pass break-ups.

Savage said at the combine in Indianapolis in February that he enjoyed watching Chicago Bears safety Eddie Jackson, who was paired with Amos last season in Chicago.

Speaking on a conference call with Wisconsin reporters after the pick, Savage said he also watched Amos when tuning in to Bears games.

"Hopefully we can build something special in Green Bay,” Savage said. Asked if he expects to start as a rookie, Savage said he does.

“A confident person would say that,” Savage said. “But at the end of the day, whatever role I'm assigned to, whatever I'm asked to do, I'm going to do it at the highest level."

Jason Wilde covers the Packers for ESPN Wisconsin. Listen to him with former Packers and Badgers offensive lineman Mark Tauscher weekdays from 9-11 on “Wilde & Tausch” on your local ESPN station.

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