The Ravens rookie 4th round draft pick Gino Gradkowski has been an interesting prospect long before the Ravens drafted him. Ozzie and the boys were one of the first to seriously scout Gradkowski during his time as a versatile offensive lineman at University of Delaware.
Gino Gradkwski and the Ravens seemed to have mutual respect for one another from the beginning. During an interview with Scout.com April of last year the prospect had raving reviews of Baltimore and the organization. While making the following comments, he still had planned visits to the Packers and Falcons remaining on his schedule.
Scout: What NFL centers do you emulate?
Gradkowski: "Jeff Saturday, he's a similar size to me and has been in the league a long time. Matt Birk, really any guy who stays in the league for a long time. Hopefully, I wind up on a team with a veteran guy. Baltimore would be a great situation for me. To learn behind Matt Birk would be awesome and be able to pick his brain."
Scout: "How was your visit to Baltimore?
Gradkowski: "It was a great experience, a beautiful facility, everything was first-class. I really enjoyed talking to their coaches and everyone with the Ravens. Baltimore, that's just what football is all about. Places like that and Pittsburgh have that great fans."
Gino Gradkowski was a well-known recruit coming out of high school. Rivals had him as three star offensive-linemen and the 19th overall lineman in the country, while Scout had him as a four star offensive-lineman and the 4th overall lineman in the country. Gino had several offers from schools such as Pittsburgh, Temple and Toledo, but untimely signed with West Virginia. However, like Flacco, Gino was pushed down on the depth chart and decided transfer to University of Delaware.
According to Scout Gino’s strengths coming out of high school were his feet, pass protection and his quickness off the ball. “Gradkowski is very quick off the ball and has great feet. He is a very good pass blocker and equally adept at run blocking.” The big knock on Gino since high school has been about his size. “A very athletic lineman, but needs to get bigger.” This was a quote from a scout as Gino was coming out of high school. We can find these same quotes from scouts as he came out of college.
Gino Gradkowski is listed at 6’3 and 300 pounds. I decided to average the height and weight of all the starting centers in the NFL this past season. The average starting center was 6’3 and 305 pounds.
Gradkowski benched-pressed 225 pounds 29 times at his pro day. That is 5 more times than Mike Pouncey and 7 more times than Max Unger. Gradkowski has surprising strength for his slimmer stature. Some scouts used the words “blown away” about his upper body strength while he was in college.
He is strong, fast, and explosive player. Gino has league average height at his position and five pounds under the league average weight for his center position. Personally, I think he needs to add 5 to 10 pounds, something he should be able to do with a frame that has room to grow. We saw his explosiveness in his extended play against the Bengals during the final week of the regular season. He continually blew up their defensive line and was able to get to the second level on a few occasions. With the potential of Birk retiring, I have no reason to believe Gino will not be able to handle the starting center roll.