Some say Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden could never have enough quarterbacks on his roster. That notion was supported on Sunday when the Buccaneers invested their fifth-round pick in San Diego QB Josh Johnson.
Tampa Bay traded down seven spots with New England in the fifth round to select Johnson with the 160th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. The Bucs also acquired one of the Patriots' seventh-round picks in the process.
“It feels great. I’m ecstatic,” said Johnson. “It’s a perfect fit, and to me this is a blessing in disguise.”
The 6-foot-2, 213-pound Johnson excelled in a West Coast offense at the Div. I-AA level, completing 68 percent of his career passes for 9,699 yards while tossing 113 touchdowns and 15 interceptions as a three-year starter.
“Understanding the West Coast offense, I mean it works for you,” said Johnson of his impressive production. “And that’s what I do is let the offense work for me. I took what the defense gave me. The thing about the West Coast offense is there’s always somebody open you just got to find them and I knew where everybody was at and my knowledge of the game improved tremendously, and that is what I feel my greatest asse is, how smart I am. I value the ball and I don't throw interceptions."
“Talking with [Bucs quarterbabcks coach Greg] Olson and other teams that ran the West Coast offense, it was so simple. Like the protections and everything, there were some protections that we might have called one thing and it was called something else, but it was just talking football. They didn’t have to teach me anything I just told them what I know, and they said ‘we do this we do that’ it was real easy to explain things.”
As a senior, Johnson completed 68.4 percent of his passes for 2,988 yards and tossed 43 touchdowns and just one interception. Despite playing at a lower level of competition, Johnson's stock had been on the rise since his senior campaign and impressive outing at the East-West Shrine Game.
However, Johnson didn't throw the ball as well as he would have liked at the Combine, which might have caused him to drop to the Bucs in the fifth round.
“I had back spasms,” said Johnson of his poor Combine performance. “It happens and I got over it. I know what I can do on the field, and everybody in Tampa Bay will get to see that.”
Johnson, who is considered a great athlete, also used his mobility and 4.4 speed to rush for 1,864 yards (6.1 avg.) and 19 touchdowns, including over 800 yards in each of his junior and senior seasons.
He said he wouldn't be opposed to playing another role on offense while being groomed at the quarterback position.
“I don’t know,” said Johnson about playing other positions in the offense. “Honestly we haven’t talked about it but if it comes up I willing to do whatever to help the team win. That’s the overall goal is the team winning.”
Tampa Bay now has seven quarterbacks – Johnson, Jeff Garcia, Brian Griese, Luke McCown, Chris Simms, Bruce Gradkowski and Jake Plummer – on their offseason roster. Johnson said he's looking forward to competing at the crowded position in Tampa Bay.
“I knew about how many quarterbacks they have and we didn’t even talk about that,” Johnson said about the Buccaneers' crowded quarterback group. “Coach Gruden just said he wanted me to come in and work and he was real excited to work with me, and we were going to come in this week and get it going.”
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PEWTER REPORT DRAFT RECAP THIS SUNDAY ON ABC Watch Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds on Sunday night at 11:30 p.m. on Sports Zone with Al Keck and Tom Korun on ABC Action News in Tampa Bay for a recap of the Buccaneers 2008 draft. And for the best local coverage of Tampa Bay sports and Tampa Bay news, check out ABCActionNews.com