Delaware Football Standout Gino Gradkowski Picked by Baltimore in 4th Round of NFL Draft
April 28, 2012
File Photo Courtesy of Mark Campbell
NEW YORK -- For the second time in five years, the Baltimore Ravens have picked a University of Delaware standout in the National Football League Draft.
Blue Hen offensive lineman Gino Gradkowski (at right), who earned a spot on virtually every All-American team this past fall, was selected in the fourth round of the NFL draft Saturday morning with the 98th pick overall.
Gradkowski, a 6-4, 305 lb. native of Pittsburgh, Pa. (Seton-LaSalle High School), will join Ravens starting quarterback and former Blue Hen All-American Joe Flacco this fall. Flacco, who has led the Ravens to five NFL playoff victories during his four seasons, was drafted in the first round with the 18th pick overall in the 2008 draft.
“We are so excited for Gino,” said Delaware head coach K.C. Keeler. “He had a great career at Delaware and I think he has a great future in the NFL. The Ravens are a great spot for him and he could be their center of the future. Gino is a great football kid. Not matter if its practice, in the weight room, or on gameday, he always has a smile on his face. He loves to play the game.”
“I’m elated right now and excited to get started,” said Gradkowski. “Baltimore plays football the way it’s supposed to be played and I’m anxious to be part of a great organization. I didn’t know I would go that high so it was fun to be under the radar a little. This is a great opportunity for me to learn from one of the best centers in the league (Matt Birk). It couldn’t be more perfect.”
A two-time first team All-Colonial Athletic Association selection and a 2011 team co-captain, Gradkowski solidified his reputation as the top offensive lineman in the league as well as one of the top blockers in the nation this past season. He helped lead Keeler’s squad to a 7-4 record this past fall as the Hens barely missed out on a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Gradkowski was also the Hens’ top offensive lineman in 2010 when Delaware went 12-3 and advanced to the national championship game.
Gradkowski, who started all 11 games this past season, including eight at guard and three at center, earned first team All-CAA honors back in November, becoming the first UD player to earn back-to-back first team honors since defensive back Charles Graves in 2009 and 2010 and the first UD offensive lineman to accomplish the feat since Conway Hayman in 1968-69.
Gradkowski, whose older brother Bruce plays quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals, becomes the first UD player to be drafted since Flacco and is now one of only three players in Delaware football history to be picked in the fourth round or higher. Quarterback Rich Gannon, who enjoyed a 17-year career in the NFL, was also selected in the fourth round of the NFL draft by New England in 1987.
He is the 29th player in UD history to be selected in the NFL draft but only the second offensive lineman, joining Hayman, who was selected in the sixth round by Washington in 1971. Hayman went on to play six seasons in the NFL with the Houston Oilers.
Gradkowski, a business management major, was a three-year starter on the offensive line for the Blue Hens after transferring from West Virginia University and made 37 career starts at Delaware.
This past fall, he was named a first team All-American by both The Sports Network and the American Football Coaches Association and was a second team All-American pick by both the Associated Press and Phil Steele College Football Magazine.
Other former Delaware players currently in the NFL are Flacco, defensive backs Anthony Walters (Chicago) and Mike Adams (Denver), and defensive lineman Ronald Talley (Arizona).
Gradkowski was one of two CAA players selected in the draft, joining Maine defensive back Jerron McMillian who was selected in the fourth round by Green Bay. They were among 13 players from the NCAA Division FCS level selected in the seven-round draft.
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