Gino's the center, but it could be a battle

Gino's the center, but it could be a battle
April 24, 2013, 9:45 pm
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One position that might be affected by the draft is center, where Gino Gradkowski leads the way following Matt Birk's retirement.

Coach John Harbaugh said Gradkowski's the top person for that position for now, but others could come in and give the second-year center from Delaware a fight for playing time.

"He's at the pole position right now -- he's probably got the edge there -- but if we bring in somebody to compete with him, if it works out that way, that'd be great," Harbaugh said when speaking to the media at the pre-draft press conference last week.

The Ravens have a number of options heading into Thursday's draft and a number of holes to fill. Losing the veteran Birk at center hurts, but Gradkowski was picked last year and worked with the team for a whole season and understands how the Ravens run their offense. Plus, learning under Birk's tutelage during a season where the offense really took off late and the Ravens went on to win the Super Bowl is something that's going to help Gradkowski.

In fact, Gradkowski got a good amount of playing time in the season's final game at Cincinnati, something that Harbaugh and the coaches really noticed.

"We’re always going to try to be as good as we can be at every position, obviously," Harbaugh said. "But Gino did a nice job last year. He played really well in the Bengals game, which we felt like that was a big test for him. We had an opportunity to see him against a really good defensive line, and he held up."

The question is going to be if he can hold up again this season.