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Franchise Changer: Bucs Draft QB Josh Freeman

With the 17th pick in the first round, Tampa Bay selected Kansas State QB Josh Freeman, a physical specimen with a strong arm and unlimited potential…It's the first time the Bucs used a first-rounder on a passer in 15 years


Kansas State QB Josh Freeman accounted for 34 touchdowns in 12 games last year

On draft weekend, nothing is more dramatic – and potentially franchise-changing – than selecting a quarterback in the first round.

It's been 15 years since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made such a move…until today.

At approximately 6:01 on Saturday evening, the Buccaneers acquired rocket-armed Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman with the 17th pick in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Tampa Bay traded up two spots to get Freeman, giving Cleveland their sixth-round pick (191st overall).

Freeman is the first opening-round quarterback Tampa Bay has selected since 1994, when Fresno State quarterback Trent Dilfer was the pick at number six overall. Dilfer played six seasons for the Buccaneers, moved into a starting role in his second year and was a Pro Bowl selection in 1997.

Freeman could have a similarly fast impact on the franchise – and potentially more long term success. The Buccaneers will definitely have a new starter under center in 2009 after Jeff Garcia was not pursued in free agency; even if Freeman doesn't step immediately into the role as a rookie, there is room for him to develop quickly.

One of the nation's premier athletes, Freeman has the size (6-5, 248 pounds) and tools usually associated with a "franchise quarterback." In addition to his strong arm and pocket presence, Freeman also has impressive mobility for his size.

The Kansas City native started 32 of the 35 games in which he appeared and broke Lynn Dickey's team records by throwing for 8,078 yards on 680 completions in 1,151 attempts. Freeman completed 59.1% of his passes over three seasons, tossed 44 touchdowns agains 34 interceptions and finished with a career passer rating of 124.7. Freeman also ran for 20 touchdowns, 14 of those coming last year, when he did the majority of his running.

Freeman, who declared for the draft after his junior season, had his best season last fall. He completed 224 of 382 passes (58.6%) for 2,945 yards, 20 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. He ranked 17th in the nation in total offense (279.1 yards per game), rushing for 404 yards on 107 carries and direted the 19th-best scoring option in the land.

In 2007, Freeman completed a career-best 63.3% of his pases and threw for 3,353 yards, 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The year before, he was the first true freshman to start for the Wildcats since 1976, opening the last eight contests.

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