Bucs move up two spots to No. 17 to select QB Freeman
It's the first time a quarterback was selected by Tampa Bay in the first round since Trent Dilfer was taken sixth overall in '94.
"I'm going to bring all I've got,'' Freeman said. "I'm going to bring a big, athletic quarterback, I'm going to bring hard work and leadership. Hopefully, it'll be something big.''
Former Bucs coach Jon Gruden, who was working the NFL draft for the NFL Network, was bemused by the pick.
"I've been accused of collecting guys, but that's the hardest position to find,'' said Gruden. "You got to admit, he is one big, good looking athlete.''
"I wish I was in that war room to congratulate all of them.''
Freeman will be reunited with Bucs coach Raheem Morris, who was the defensive coordinator at Kansas State in 2006.
The Bucs traded a sixth-round pick to the Browns to move from No. 19 to No. 17 to take Freeman.
The move leaves the Bucs with five quarterbacks on their roster -- Luke McCown, Brian Griese, Byron Leftwich and Josh Johnson.
Gruden, who was fired in January after his team failed to make the playoffs following a 9-3 start, was accused of collecting quarterbacks during his seven seasons in Tampa Bay.
The Bucs never took a quarterback higher than in the third round when they selected Chris Simms in 2003 while Gruden was in Tampa Bay.
But the Glazer family believed one of the failures of the Bucs under Gruden was the inability to develop a young, franchise quarterback.
The Bucs had plenty of needs on defense and there were some top-flight defensive players on the board when they jumped the Denver Broncos at No. 18, fearing the Broncos might want Freeman after trading quarterback Jay Cutler to the Bears.
But new general manager Mark Dominik has been focused on the quarterback situation ever since taking over the job.
He re-signed McCown as a free agent to a two-year, $7.5-million contract. Dominik also attempted to complete a three-way deal with Denver and New England for Cutler.
Less than two weeks ago, the Bucs signed Leftwich, the Steelers free agent, to a two-year deal.
Morris has said it will be an open competition at quarterback this off-season. It's uncertain whether the plan is to play Freeman right away. Last year Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco led their teams to the playoffs as rookies.
Freeman was the third quarterback taken in the NFL draft Saturday. Georgia's Matt Stafford was taken No. 1 overall by the Lions and Mark Sanchez went No. 5 overall to the Jets, who traded up with the Cleveland Browns.
The selection of Freeman could mean that Johnson, a fifth-round choice from San Diego last season, could be the odd-man out.