2006 Draft Preview: Quarterback

The Steelers are in the market for a new No. 3 quarterback. Could Bruce Gradkowski be a player the Steelers are looking at?

During his senior season at Seton LaSalle High School, Bruce Gradkowski wasn't on the radar of any big-time college football programs.

At 6-1 3/8, and 185 pounds, Gradkowski just didn't have the kind of size teams look for in their quarterbacks.

But game after game, Gradkowski kept on putting up numbers against top-flight competition in the WPIAL's Class AA Interstate Conference, including single-handedly nearly leading Seton-LaSalle to an upset of eventual WPIAL runner-up Waynesburg at Waynesburg.

But more schools were interested in Gradkowski as a basketball player than were in football.

"I had basketball scholarship offers from Richmond and St. Joseph's," Gradkowski, a high-scoring point guard, told the College Football News. "In football, it was AA schools like Delaware, Eastern Kentucky and Florida International with (former Miami Dolphin) Don Strock. Just I-AA. No Division I offers."

Except, of course, from Toledo.

A couple of years and 20 pounds later, Gradkowski had his coming out party in a Toledo win over then-No. 9 Pittsburgh, as he threw for 461 yards and three touchdowns. It was a big moment for the hometown boy against a team that had never given him a second glance.

Now, NFL teams are looking long and hard at Gradkowski, trying to decide whether he is a product of the Rockets' high-percentage passing game, or if his talent will transfer to the professional level.

Thus far, Gradkowski has held up well, running an impressive 4.59 40-yard dash at the NFL combine in Indianapolis and showing that he has adequate arm strength to play in the NFL.

Gradkowski has shown enough that he'll likely be a mid-round selection of draft day, possibly slipping into the first day as a late third-round pick.

And certainly the Pittsburgh Steelers will have their eye on a player who completed 19 of 30 passes for 363 yards and four touchdowns his senior year in high school in a shellacking of director of football operations Kevin Colbert's alma mater, North Catholic.

Gradkowski will be one player the Steelers will consider as a possible No. 3 QB behind starters Ben Roethlisberger and backup Charlie Batch and is general seen as a top-10 quarterback prospect despite being well behind first-rounders Matt Leinart, Vince Young and Jay Cutler.

Other QBs the Steelers will consider are Alabama's Brodie Croyle (third round); UCLA's Drew Olson (fifth), Georgia's D.J. Shockey (fifth) or Montana State's Travis Lulay (sixth).

Courtesy of the Observer-Reporter


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