With Tampa Bay expected to release or trade veteran quarterback Brad Johnson this offseason to clear some salary cap room, the Buccaneers will be in the market for a new third-string quarterback and will likely turn to the draft to fill that need.
Bucs head coach and quarterback guru Jon Gruden will get to personally inspect several prospects at the Senior Bowl later this month when he and his staff will be coaching the South squad. The Senior Bowl announced the six quarterbacks who will be participating in the college all-star game, and Gruden will be commanding Auburn’s Jason Campbell, Georgia’s David Greene and Arizona State’s Andrew Walter.
The Oakland Raiders will be coaching the North team in this year’s Senior Bowl, and head coach Norv Turner will preside over Purdue’s Kyle Orton, Connecticut’s Dan Orlovsky and Akron’s Charlie Frye.
Perhaps no NFL prospect has seen his stock rise throughout the 2004 season than Campbell, who directed Auburn to a 13-0 undefeated season, SEC Championship and Sugar Bowl Championship. The mobile Campbell, who was slated to be a sixth- or seventh-round pick at the start of his senior campaign, was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year and now could be drafted as high as round two. His 31 career wins are the most of any Auburn quarterback.
Greene, a left-handed quarterback with great intangibles, won 42 games as a four-year starter at Georgia, breaking the NCAA Division I-A victory total for a quarterback of 39 set by Tennessee’s Peyton Manning. Greene has improved his NFL draft stock and is expected to be drafted between rounds 2-4.
Walter became the PAC-10’s all-time leader in touchdown passes with 85 this season. Although he lacks mobility, Walter has a great arm and nice pocket presence. He was slated to be a first-round pick until he suffered an injury to his right shoulder, which is his throwing arm, on November 26 against Arizona. He had surgery on December 7 and missed the Sun Devils’ Sun Bowl victory over Purdue in late December.
Orlovsky helped put UConn on the map this year in the Big East by throwing for 3,354 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also led the Huskies to their first ever bowl game and victory in the Motor City Bowl. Orlovsky was the MVP of that contest and is expected to be a mid-round pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.
Orton is one of the most prolific passers in Big Ten history and led the conference with 28 touchdown passes this season and 290.9 yards in total offense per game. While Orton is considered a product of coach Joe Tiller’s spread offense, the NFL success of former Boilermaker quarterback Drew Brees this year may boost Orton’s stock. He is expected to be drafted between rounds 2-4.
Frye set 54 records at Akron, including career passing yards (11,049), total offense (11,478), completion percentage (63.6) and touchdowns (64). Frye isn’t blessed with the best arm, but he makes great decisions with the ball and shows tremendous touch on his passes. He is expected to be drafted between rounds 3-5.
The Senior Bowl will be held on Saturday, January 29 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. Kickoff is set for 3:00 p.m. ET and the game will be televised on ESPN.
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Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com