DENVER--Wednesday, the Denver Broncos announced that they have acquired center Gino Gradkowski. The Broncos also received a 2016 fifth round pick from the Baltimore Ravens, in exchange for their 2016 fourth round pick.
Gradkowski, whose older brother, Bruce, is currently a reserve signal-caller with the Pittsburgh Steelers, is a versatile offensive lineman who started all of the Ravens games at center in 2013.
The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Gradkowski was drafted by Baltimore with the 98th overall selection in the 2012 draft out of Delaware, a veritable NFL hotbed which has put former Broncos safety Mike Adams, current Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and former NFL signal-caller Rich Gannon in the league, among others. Gradkowski began his collegiate career with West Virginia, before transferring to Delaware.
Despite his short career thus far, Gradkowski has already had experience doing things most offensive linemen don't do, such as recovering a fumble, posting three career tackles and returning a kickoff in 2012, which went for 12 yards.
We know, based on Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak's recent past in Baltimore, that he has a history with Gradkowski and knows the best ways he can excel, so this trade, on the surface, seems wise for the Broncos purposes.
Gradkowski is also a product of Pittsburgh high school football, which has produced a litany of NFL legends through the years, such as Hall of Fame quarterbacks Dan Marino and Joe Montana, and current New York Jets star cornerback Darrelle Revis, just to name a few, so he comes from solid football stock.
However, Gradkowski is likely going to battle it out with Manny Ramirez for the Broncos starting center position. In his only full season as a starting center in 2013, Gradkowski ranked dead last in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus with a -15.6 cumulative grade. Continuing to work with offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and offensive line coach Clancy Barone could help turn the ship around for Gradkowski.
Ultimately, the Broncos were able to obtain a versatile, multifaceted player for a low risk proposition, especially when you factor in that they will likely rake in several compensatory draft selections in 2016 to make up for the loss of Rahim Moore, Julius Thomas, Orlando Franklin and Terrance Knighton.
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