The Tampa Bay Buccaneers used the first of two sixth-round draft picks to select Toledo quarterback Bruce Gradkowski.
"I'm so excited to be a Buccaneer," said Gradkowski. "It's just unbelievable. Words can't express my emotion right now. To just get the opportunity to learn from a great coach like Jon Gruden. I just can't wait. Coaches like Jon Gruden are people that I grow under. I had a coach at Toledo that was stern and expected a lot, and was a perfectionist. Now I come to Tampa bay and I have the same kind of coach. I'm excited and I can't wait. It just fires me up to think that I will be able to work with Coach Gruden."
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Gradkowski is a great leader with intangibles. He has decent mobility, good accuracy and a real quick release. He has the physical tools to be successful in a timing-based offense like Bucs head coach Jon Gruden's West Cost attack.
"We ran a West Coast-type offense [at Toledo]," said Gradkowski. "We spread it out. We also had two or three tight ends in there at a time, along with some play action. We did different things. I'm familiar with the West Coast offense and I know there is a lot to learn from Coach Gruden."
As a senior, Gradkowski led the nation's 15th-ranked offense, which averaged 447 yards per game, by completing 57.5 percent of his pass attempts for 2,469 yards and tossing 29 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also rushed for 291 yards on 61 attempts (4.8 avg.) and four touchdowns.
Gradkowski started 36 of the 49 games he played in at Toledo. He completed 68.2 percent of his career passes and threw for 9,225 yards while tossing 85 touchdowns and 27 interceptions. He also rushed for 1,018 career yards (4.1 avg.) and 14 touchdowns.
"I try to be a good, accurate passer with a high percentage of decision making," said Gradkowski. "All I try to do is put my offense in a downhill play, and help us win football games. I don't try to do too much, just do what I'm coached to do. That's what I feel like my game is. I just want to manage the offense."
In addition to earning All-Mid American Conference first-team honors and being named co-recipient of the Vern Smith award, given to the MAC's MVP, Gradkowski also was the only quarterback in NCAA history to compete more than 70 percent of his passes in two straight seasons (2003-04).
The Bucs now have five quarterbacks - Chris Simms, Luke McCown, Tim Rattay, Jared Allen and Gradkowski - on their offseason roster.
If you liked this story, be sure to get the inside scoop and more detailed information on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offseason plans regarding roster changes, free agency and the NFL Draft with a Pewter Insider premium subscription.
Visit BucGear.com today to view and choose from the largest selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers merchandise in the world.