Quarterback of the future, Josh Johnson.
Well, not so fast.
Even Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden is well aware that Johnson — the seventh quarterback on the Bucs’ roster this season — has a long way to go.
“He dominated at his level (Division I-AA),” Gruden said. “But it’s a level playing field now.”
Johnson was one of five second-day selections for Tampa Bay, who geared their draft toward addressing needs at several different positions.
Earlier Sunday the Bucs worked to improve their bulk on both sides of the line in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft, selecting Rutgers G Jeremy Zuttah in the third round and Maryland DT Dre Moore in the fourth round.
The Bucs moved up five spots to No. 115 — a pick originally held by Chicago — to take Moore.
The Bucs also added another pick in the fifth round, trading down from No. 153 to No. 160 in a deal with New England that allowed the Bucs to acquire New England’s seventh-round pick (No. 238 overall). The Bucs then used the No. 160 selection to pick Johnson.
In the sixth round the Bucs selected Florida State linebacker Geno Hayes, who told reporters in February that he received advice from current Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks during the offseason.
In the seventh round the Bucs took bulky South Carolina back Cory Boyd.
Johnson drew plenty of attention from NFL scouts after he threw just one interception last year. He did not have a great combine workout, but the Bucs thought enough of Johnson to fly quarterbacks coach Greg Olson to a private meeting with Johnson in March.
Plus, former Bucs quarterback and current personnel executive Doug Williams had been in Gruden’s ear about Johnson most of the offseason.
“Doug has a real good eye for talent and being able to see where a player will be a few years down the road,” Gruden said. “He thinks we have the environment here to help him succeed.”
His selection will cause some buzz in Tampa Bay, where the Bucs already have six quarterbacks on their roster — Jeff Garcia, Brian Griese, Bruce Gradkowski, Jake Plummer, Chris Simms and Luke McCown.
Johnson’s performance at Division I-AA San Diego included a career 67.9 completion percentage, 113 touchdowns passes, 15 interceptions and nearly 2,000 yards rushing.
“I am ecstatic because this is a perfect fit,” Johnson said. “This is a blessing in disguise.”
Zuttah (6-foot-4, 303 pounds) moved steadily up draft boards throughout the scouting process after a solid career at Rutgers in which he spent a good portion of his time blocking for second-round pick Ray Rice.
Gruden said the Bucs see Zuttah as a player that will provide depth at guard, tackle and center.
“Sometimes you can only dress seven linemen for a game, so you have to have players that can help you at multiple positions,” Gruden said.
Moore (6-foot-4, 305 pounds) can play both positions in the interior defensive line. He started two seasons for the Terrapins, earning All-ACC honors his senior year and proving to be a solid defender against the run and the pass. He posted 17 ½ career tackles for loss, including 10 ½ sacks. His six sacks last season led the Terps.
“He has a lot of upside,” Gruden said. “He’s a middle pass rusher who can collapse the pocket.”
The Bucs sacked the quarterback just 32 times in 2007 and were ranked only No. 17 against the run. Moore could be seen as a player that could help them in both areas. And Moore acted the part of a confident rookie on Sunday.
“By the end of my rookie year 31 teams will be shaking their head,” Moore said.
On Saturday the Buccaneers addressed needs at two key positions. In the first round the Bucs took Kansas CB Aqib Talib and in the second round the Bucs selected Appalachian State WR/KR Dexter Jackson.
Whether you agree or disagree, Aqib Talib and Dexter Jackson are Buccaneers now. But what do you really know about them. Check out our “First Draft” feature, which includes seven things you might or might now know about each player. But the real bonus is all of the links to our Scout.com analysis on each player, previous stories from their college days and the scouting process, along with audio and video on each player if we have it. It’s the Scout.com network in action. You’ll know more about both players than some of the writers covering the team after you take advantage of our “First Draft” feature. Check out our “First Draft” feature on Talib by clicking here and our “First Draft” on Jackson by clicking here
Get expert analysis on where new Bucs Aqib Talib and Dexter Jackson fit into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Coaches like Jon Gruden and Monte Kiffin put the selections — and their impact on the team — into context in this article. Click here to access.
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Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.