Josh Freeman Re-Joins Raheem Morris in Tampa

Raheem Morris is sky-high on his new quarterback … Mr. Josh Freeman. Morris, the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, talked after the draft where Freeman was selected as the 17th player. In addition, Ian Campbell and Brooks Rossman have signed as free agents with St. Louis.

Josh Freeman went No. 17 in Saturday's NFL Draft, but as Buccaneer coach Raheem Morris says, "If I had the Detroit Lions' pick at No. 1, I might have taken Josh Freeman."

As it turned out, the Bucs had the No. 19 pick in the draft, but to make sure they could select the Wildcat quarterback, traded up to the No. 17 spot to secure the 6-foot-6, 248-pound quarterback.

Talking with the St. Petersburg Times, Morris said, "The owners are very excited. They haven't had an opportunity to be this excited for 15 years, and they are really pumped up. They've got a chance for a franchise quarterback."

Freeman became the first quarterback taken in the first round by the Bucs since Trent Dilfer at No. 6 in 1994 out of Fresno State.

While Morris knew Freeman up close and personal from his single season on the KSU coaching staff in 2006 when he was defensive coordinator, the first-year coach sent general manager Mark Diminik, plus scouts and assistants, in for a look-see on Freeman.

"There is always a danger of having too much information on a guy," Morris told The Times. "So early in the process, I tried to stay back away a little bit. You don't push a guy.

You don't sell a guy. You don't even give your opinion of a guy because you don't want to sway people's opinion in the building. You just want him to get a chance to be around people."

Freeman was the third QB taken in the draft behind Matthew Stafford of Georgia, who went No. 1 to Detroit, and Mark Sanchez of USC to the New York Jets at No. 5.

Then came Freeman, who said after the draft, "I feel like I have the best arm of the bunch. I feel like when it comes down to it, the ability to make something happen and extend plays is my X-factor. I'm a big guy, a strong guy, extremely hard to sack."

Freeman went on to say, "I think it comes down to the school I went to. I've worked out with both of those guys. I think they're really good. I'd take me over them. I think it comes down to they went to Georgia, which is a good, competitive team in the SEC, and Mark Sanchez went to USC, who pretty much wins the Pac-10 every year. I think it really came down to them going to better schools and winning more games and stuff like that that had me going 17th or dropping this low."

On the importance of landing Freeman, Morris said, "I am married to him. We all know you can't win in this league without a quarterback. You just can't do it."

Already on the Bucs' roster as quarterbacks are Brian Griese, Josh Johnson, Luke McCown and Byron Leftwich.


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