Local draftees: No Pitt player hears name
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Seton-LaSalle High School graduate Gino Gradkowski didn't have to wait long Saturday to hear his name called at the NFL draft, but things didn't go nearly as well for a handful of Pitt seniors who never heard their name called.
That is because the Baltimore Ravens selected Gradkowski, an offensive lineman from the University of Delaware, with the third pick of the fourth round (98th overall) while Pitt had no players drafted for the first time since the 1999 draft.
Gradkowski (6 feet 2, 295 pounds), whose older brother Bruce is a backup quarterback with the Cincinnati Bengals and previously played for the Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, can play both center and guard. That increased his value.
He started all 11 games for the Blue Hens last season and also was named co-captain. He began his career at West Virginia, then transferred to Delaware. Gradkowski said on a conference call that he is excited about playing for the Ravens because they are a hard-nosed, physical team, and that's the kind of player he considers himself to be.
He also said he'll be able to learn from the Ravens many veteran offensive linemen.
"I'm elated because Baltimore plays football the way it's supposed to be played," he said.
Gradkowski also said in a text message that he likely will start his career at guard while being groomed as the Ravens' center of the future.
"It is a great fit for me to learn behind one of the best centers today in Matt Birk," Gradkowski said. "I couldn't be happier to go to Baltimore and play for the Ravens. I like their whole mentality there and the people that I met while visiting. It seems like a great place for me to be."
He was the only local player picked in the fourth round and one of only three (along with West Virginia's Bruce Irvin and Penn State's Devon Still) who were selected in the first four rounds. Several more, however, were selected in the final three rounds.
Penn State had three players selected Saturday but not wide receiver Derek Moye (Rochester).
San Diego picked offensive guard Johnnie Troutman with the 14th pick of the fifth round and Oakland picked defensive end Jack Crawford nine spots later. The Raiders also used the 23rd pick of the seventh round to grab linebacker Nate Stupar.
West Virginia had two players selected Saturday, and both went to Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers grabbed linebacker Najee Goode with the fifth pick of the fifth round and cornerback Keith Tandy with the fourth pick of the sixth round.
Former Valley High standout Toney Clemons, a receiver who played at Michigan, then transferred to Colorado, was picked by the Steelers in the seventh round.
Lucas Nix, from Thomas Jefferson High, was projected as high as a third-round pick by some services, but went undrafted and signed a free-agent contract with the Raiders. Pitt defensive tackle Chas Alecxih signed with Miami.
First Published April 29, 2012 12:00 am