Bucs draft: quarterbacks

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Bucs Draft 2008

When: Saturday (rounds 1-2) and Sunday (rounds 3-7)

Bucs picks (round-overall): 1-20, 2-52, 3-83, 4-120, 5-154, 6-none (Michael Bennett trade), 7-none (Jake Plummer trade)

Top 10 quarterbacks

1. Matt Ryan, 6-5, 224, Boston College

Premier quarterback in the 2008 draft class who will win games at the next level. Falcons, Chiefs and Ravens are likely destinations.

2. Brian Brohm, 6-3, 227, Louisville

Would've been a lock first-round pick had he come out as a junior. Good for team with West Coast offense but limited arm strength.

3. Chad Henne, 6-2, 225, Michigan

Very experienced leader of the Wolverines improved his value at Senior Bowl. Can throw the deep ball and will likely be an NFL starter in a few years.

4. Joe Flacco, 6-7, 236, Delaware

Strongest arm in the draft class. Transferred from Pitt and dominated Division I-AA level. Late first-, early second-round projection, maybe to Dolphins.

5. John David Booty, 6-3, 213, USC

Played in pressure games at USC and has calm demeanor that allows him to shake off mistakes. West Coast offense a fit.

6. Andre Woodson, 6-5, 224, Kentucky

Extremely productive college QB saw his stock drop at Senior Bowl because of a hitch in his delivery. With coaching, he could be a solid backup.

7. Erik Ainge, 6-6, 225, Tennessee

Slow release and tendency to take sacks will be factors. Could develop into a long-term backup.

8. Josh Johnson, 6-3, 198, San Diego

The legend of Josh Johnson grew as rapidly as the skinny little quarterback who weighed 145 pounds when he was recruited to the University of San Diego by former NFL quarterback Jim Harbaugh.

Flash forward four years and Johnson might be the discovery of the draft, a 6-3, 198-pound senior who led the Division I-AA Toreros by throwing an astounding 43 touchdowns with one interception. He rushed for 720 yards and was chosen as the MVP of the East-West Shrine game.

"My story is crazy," Johnson said. "I'm small, not recruited, a former NFL quarterback recruits me to a school a lot of people think is San Diego State once I say San Diego. It was a nonscholarship program, and as he changed the program around, my life began to change off the field."

Johnson ran the fastest 40-yard dash time of any quarterback at the NFL scouting combine, but back spasms contributed to a shaky performance during passing drills in which his footballs fluttered. He atoned for that performance with a solid pro day.

Johnson is a personal favorite of Doug Williams, the Bucs' pro personnel assistant. Maybe he sees a little of himself in the small college quarterback. Whatever the reason, he spent two days with Johnson before the fury all began. Williams makes the argument that regardless of the teams Johnson played against, he dominated the competition, much the way Steve McNair did at Alcorn State.

Johnson has an advanced knowledge of the West Coast offense and its lengthy terminology. A potential dance partner for Johnson will be the Ravens, where Harbaugh's brother, John, is a first-year coach.

"You see guys like (Tony) Romo, Tom Brady, Jeff Garcia, who took the backroads, and just know they worked for what they got," Johnson said. "You never know what can happen."

9 . Dennis Dixon, 6-4, 205, Oregon

Great athlete who is coming off ACL surgery, which might prevent him from being drafted. Could play WR or KR and fill third QB spot.

10. Colt Brennan, 6-3, 205, Hawaii

Huge numbers for the Warriors in run-and-shoot. Lacks arm strength and saw stock plummet after Senior Bowl. Had hip injury that required surgery but added 12 pounds since Mobile.

Thumbs-up

Kevin O'Connell, 6-6, 228, San Diego State

Burst onto the scene as a senior and has rare size and athletic ability at QB. Improved his ability to understand defenses and a very interesting developmental prospect for a team with time to invest.

Thumbs-down

Kyle Wright, 6-4, 220, Miami

Considered the top prep prospect when he signed with the Hurricanes, but his performance sunk each season. Still has the size and arm strength to play in NFL and could get free agent chance.

Under the radar

Matt Flynn, 6-2, 228, Louisiana State

All he does is win. Top Texas prep QB languished on the LSU bench behind JaMarcus Russell. Never was really handed the full-time reins by the Tigers, but an interesting prospect with talent and smarts to make it at the next level.

GM Bruce Allen's scorecard

Allen has drafted just one quarterback for the Bucs: Bruce Gradkowski, a sixth-round pick from Toledo in 2006. Unfortunately for Gradkowski, he was pressed into service as a rookie and went 3-8. Gradkowski now is near the bottom of a logjam with five other QBs and faces a tough battle to hold onto a roster spot. Allen has used draft picks to trade for three other signal-callers — Tim Rattay, Luke McCown and Brian Griese, who is in his second stint with Tampa Bay. McCown went 1-2 as a starter and showed promise but still needs to improve his decisionmaking and is in the final year of his contract.

Impact on the Bucs

It might seem preposterous, but the Bucs really do need a QB of the future. The question is whether Gruden has the patience to develop one. He had several false starts with Chris Simms due to injury and has never had a young, first-round talent to work with. Because they have bigger needs, the Bucs might look in the middle rounds for a prospect like Woodson or Johnson.

Rick Stroud, Times staff writer

Bucs draft: quarterbacks 04/21/08 [Last modified: Thursday, April 24, 2008 11:50am]

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