INDIANAPOLIS – As Phil Savage was wrapping up his tenure in the Baltimore Ravens personnel department, his eyes were fixated about an hour south of team headquarters.
A linebacker out of the University of Maryland was reminding Savage of 13-time Pro Bowler Ray Lewis.
D'Qwell Jackson turned in an All-American campaign during his 2004 junior season and he followed that up with another in his final season in College Park.
By then, Savage had moved on to the role as Cleveland Browns general manager but his fascination with Jackson in the middle of an NFL defense had only increased.
So when the Browns were on the clock with the 34th pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, Savage went back to his personnel days in Baltimore to choose the ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
As Savage looks back on the eight-year career Jackson has carved out in the NFL, he reverts to his initial impression of the now Colts inside linebacker.
"The word that best describes him throughout his career, both college and pro, would be productive," Savage says of Jackson.
"He's got an instinct for the game. He can play all three downs. He's not had a Pro Bowl level career but he's been on the fringe of numerous Pro Bowls. Ultimately, I think he's been a good player and will be a good signing for the Colts."
D'Qwell Jackson's NFL Career
154 (NFL best)
On IR with shoulder injury he suffered in 2009
In the mid-2000s, when Savage popped in film of Jackson, it spoke for itself to the type of football player the Browns were getting.
What was harder to evaluate were the intangibles that Jackson was going to bring, and has continued to carry, throughout his NFL career.
"We definitely had real positive feedback on the leadership, the toughness, the work ethic. I think he's surpassed those things," Savage says of Jackson.
"When you take into account, and for the most part with the exception of 2007 (10-6 season), he's played well on poor teams. That takes its toll after a while. D'Qwell has never lost his passion for the game or his spirit. He's really held things together for the Browns through numerous regimens."
In his eight years with Cleveland, Jackson experienced a season with more than five wins just once.
There's no secret what Jackson wanted in his next destination.
When Savage heard that Jackson was going to hit the free agent market, he knew what the guy he drafted back in 2006 was striving for.
That makeup and the Colts were a perfect match.
"It's pretty apparent why, when given the choice, he chose the Colts," Savage said. "He's got stability at quarterback, the coaching staff, the front office and I think you are going to see the best D'Qwell has to offer up there."
"In many respects he was desperate for the opportunity to get to a winner as soon as possible. They've got one of the best young quarterbacks, if not the top young quarterback in the league. It's an ideal fit for him. He's just an overall good person, good player. I think he will do quite well in Indy."