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April 25, 2009

Tampa Bay trades up to pick Freeman

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman with their first-round pick. The Bucs traded up two spots from the 19th pick to the 17th overall pick held by the Cleveland Browns. Tampa Bay gave up their sixth-round pick in 2009 in order to land Freeman.

It was the first time the Bucs selected a quarterback in the first round of the draft since 1994 when they selected Fresno State's Trent Dilfer. Freeman was the third quarterback drafted in the first round. Freeman played for Bucs head coach Raheem Morris during the 2006 season when Morris was the Wildcats defensive coordinator.

Last season as a junior, completed 224-of-382 passes for 2,945 yards with 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also ran for 14 touchdowns. Freeman is a physical specimen that checks in at 6-foot-6, and 250-pounds. In his collegiate career he started 30 games and had a record of 14-16.

For his career Freeman completed 59 percent of his passes (680 out of 1151) for 8,078 yards and 44 touchdowns with 34 interceptions. He ran for 835 yards and 20 touchdowns averaging 3.9 yards per carry.

The scouting reports on Freeman suggest that he is a much better quarterback than his numbers and win-loss record indicate. Freeman played with a rather poor supporting cast. The Wildcats offense had a terrible running game and offensive line. The receivers also dropped a large amount of passes. The coaching that Freeman received also came under fire during the lead up to the NFL draft.

Freeman is the fifth quarterback on the Buccaneers roster. Luke McCown was re-signed to a two-year contract prior to free agency. During free agency, the Bucs signed free agent quarterback Byron Leftwich to a two-year contract. They had second-year quarterback Josh Johnson and veteran Brian Griese under contract for 2009. The starting quarterback position is up for grabs, and McCown has been viewed as the favorite for the job.

The Bucs have stated that they would take four quarterbacks to training camp. There is a possibility that Tampa Bay would trade Johnson or Griese later on during the draft. Freeman looks similar to Detroit Lions quarterback Daunte Culpepper. They both have great size, big arms, and good mobility.

Drafting Freeman is a bold statement from the new regime running the Bucs organization. General manager Mark Dominik, and Morris, committed the franchise to a quarterback. Former general manager Bruce Allen and head coach Jon Gruden were fired in part for not finding productive stability at the quarterback position. Dominik and Morris have decided to address the important position with their first draft pick.

The selection of Freeman starts a new era for Tampa Bay Buccaneers football.

Charlie Campbell is a writer for PewterReport.com, a Web site that covers the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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