Shutdown Corner Profiles Ravens Rookie Gino Gradkowski

OWINGS MILLS, MD - MAY 13: Gino Gradkowski #66 of the Baltimore Ravens takes part in a practice during the Baltimore Ravens minicamp on May 13, 2012 in Owings Mills, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

When the Baltimore Ravens drafted Delaware center Gino Gradkowski in the 2012 NFL Draft, many fans felt the team finally had the eventual replacement for veteran center Matt Birk. Drafted as a center, Gradkowski actually played guard in his final collegiate season. This might have been additional motivation fro the Ravens, as Gradkowski could either start at left guard for a year before switching to center or provide valuable insurance in case of injury along the team's offensive line.

Shutdown Corner, a Yahoo! Sports blog, profiled Gino and wasn't the most kind in their assessment of his pro potential. While they acknowledge his bloodlines and the fact he might take Birk's place, they say he is too small to play the guard position in the Ravens run-heavy offensive scheme. They also question his toughness, noting that he got "popped" too often by players from other small schools, which does not bode well for the type of guys he will face on a regular basis at the next level.

The story plays both sides, giving compliments as well as criticism. Bottom line, as Ray Lewis says all too often, if Gradkowski has the heart of his brother, Bruce, who has made a career out of relatively nothing, he could learn from the best (Birk) and be a solid and serviceable center for a long time. It certainly can't hurt to be snapping the ball to another Delaware product behind him at quarterback.

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