Bucs' Glennon has tall task challenging Freeman

From left, wide receiver Tim Wright, quarterback Mike Glennon and center Kyle Ritt run drills during the Bucs’ rookie minicamp.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

From left, wide receiver Tim Wright, quarterback Mike Glennon and center Kyle Ritt run drills during the Bucs’ rookie minicamp.

TAMPA — Bucs coach Greg Schiano held the index finger and thumb on his left hand about an inch or so apart. From a height standpoint, that's the difference between Josh Freeman and rookie Mike Glennon.

Of course, the hope is maybe one day the 6-foot-7 North Carolina State quarterback will stand head and shoulder pads above the 6-6 Freeman in terms of talent. But that day did not dawn this week when Glennon was the most visible player among the 90 draft picks, college free agents and undrafted tryout players assembled at One Buc Place for rookie minicamp.

"Mike has a great arm," said Miami running back Mike James, a sixth-round pick. "He's real smart. I've sat down with him throughout the time we've been here and it's amazing how much knowledge he has. It's crazy."

Glennon, a third-round pick whom Schiano tried to recruit to Rutgers as a 17-year-old Virginia player of the year, sat behind Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson for three seasons with the Wolfpack.

So it's no surprise he sought some advice from Wilson before heading to Tampa on Thursday.

"I just wanted to pick (Wilson's) mind before I got (to Tampa) and hear how he handled things," Glennon said of his conversation with Seattle's starter, who also lasted until Round 3. "He's a man on a mission, and you can hear it in the way he talks. He just kind of told me to take it one day at a time and try to get better each and every day. Don't worry about the long run. If you just get better each and every day, eventually good things will happen. I think that was great advice."

The question that will follow Glennon around this year: Is he the Bucs' next franchise quarterback? Or is he just next?

"Just like all the rest I want him to come in and do the best he can," Schiano said. "Wherever that places him in the pecking order, so to speak, that is where he will be. You have aspirations for every player you take, whether it is free agent or draft, but the guy has got to go do it. That is why I like competition across our football team because I think it raises the overall level of the team. Everybody is different. We are going to have to wait and see how it goes."

There is a reason why 23 of the 32 quarterbacks who started the 2012 season openers were selected in the first round. Only five — Tom Brady, Matt Cassel, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Schaub and Wilson — were taken in the third round or later. The Cowboys' Tony Romo went undrafted.

The perception that Glennon could push Freeman for the starting job this year is farfetched. Based on percentages, it's a long shot he ever emerges as a consistent starter in the NFL.

But there is a lot to like about Glennon. Start with his arm strength. It might not be as good as Freeman, but for a tall quarterback, he has a quick release with little wasted motion.

One thing that stands out, however, is that Glennon is not nearly as good of an athlete as Freeman. At only 220 pounds, he appears skinny and his inability to escape pressure could be a problem in the NFL.

Because he was mentored by former Boston College coach Tom O'Brien at N.C. State, Glennon has heard inevitable comparisons to Falcons quarterback and former BC star Matt Ryan.

"I've heard it since I was 17 years old, ever since I committed to N.C. State for coach O'Brien," Glennon, 23, said. "The comparisons immediately started. It's something I'm used to, and now I think it'll be neat that I'm playing him two times a year. It really doesn't mean much because he's accomplished a little more than I have at this point, and one day I hope I can accomplish the same things as him."

The best thing going for Glennon might be that the Bucs' offense fits his skills sets. Under Schiano and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, Tampa Bay uses a strong play-action game and wants to drive downfield in the passing game.

"I think it's a good fit," Glennon said. "You look at Josh and you see a big, tall, strong-armed guy, and I think I'm similar to that. (Sullivan) came from New York with Eli (Manning), and I think I'm similar to that as well. Really, I'm just going to do whatever they asked of me."

Can Glennon assume the role as franchise quarterback? Will he compete with Freeman for the starting job this year? Glennon isn't really saying.

"As a player you're obviously extremely competitive or you wouldn't have made it to this level," he said. "If you try and get better each and every day, the results will follow."

Rick Stroud can be reached at stroud@tampabay.com and can be heard from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-620. View his blog at tampabay.com/blogs/bucs. Follow him on Twitter at @NFLStroud.

Bucs' Glennon has tall task challenging Freeman 05/04/13 [Last modified: Sunday, May 5, 2013 1:15am]

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