Sunday, April 27, 2003

Bad news, good news for Simms

After long wait, Texas QB lands with Bucs

By Fred Goodall
The Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. - Chris Simms had given up on the NFL draft and turned his television to the NBA playoffs.

The disappointed Texas quarterback watched the end of the New Jersey Nets' overtime loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA playoffs Saturday, and had just started getting into the Philadelphia 76ers-New Orleans Hornets game when he received a call from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the end of the third round.

Simms, son of former New York Giants star Phil Simms, expected to go anywhere between 15th and 25th overall. Instead, he went 97th - and was the sixth player drafted at his position.

He wound up with the Super Bowl champions and a coach - Jon Gruden - that has a reputation for molding successful quarterbacks. Still, he's still determined to prove the league's other 31 teams made a mistake.

"It's been frustrating. I stopped watching the draft about two hours ago," Simms said. "I'm glad it's finally over with. Now I go play football and show the other people they didn't know what they were talking about."

Even though starter Brad Johnson is coming off his best season and Tampa Bay also has three experienced backups in Jim Miller, Shane Matthews and Shaun King, Gruden said Simms will have every opportunity to develop and realize his potential with Tampa Bay.

"We think he has great promise," Gruden said. "We have something to prove, Chris and I both, that we made the right choice."

Simms completed nearly 59 percent of his passes and threw for 7,097 yards and 58 touchdowns in four seasons at Texas. He said he was not concerned about heading to a team with so many veterans ahead of him on the depth chart.

"I just look forward to being there with the team, learning as much as possible," he said. "I could have easily been drafted in the first round and wound up in the same situation."

General manager Rich McKay said the Bucs gave some thought to taking Simms with the last pick in the second round (No. 64 overall), but felt Louisville defensive end Dewayne White would be a better selection at that time. The 6-foot-2, 273-pound White is Conference USA's career leader with 371/2 sacks.

The Bucs didn't have a pick in the first round for the second straight year because of the trade that brought Gruden from Oakland. It's the fourth time since 1997 that Tampa Bay hasn't picked above the second round.

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Newman goes to Cowboys
Jets trade up for UK's Robertson
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