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Former NFL coach Jon Gruden: 'If you don't like Justin Blackmon, you don't like football'

BY GINA MIZELL, Staff Writer, Published: April 11, 2012

Brandon Weeden's moment in Jon Gruden's “QB Camp” hot seat premiered last Saturday on ESPN, where the former Raiders and Buccaneers coach praised Weeden's arm strength and accuracy and called the former Cowboy a “calm, cool, confident customer.”

Gruden participated in a national media conference call on Wednesday to talk about this year's quarterback draft class. Here's what he had to say about the group as a whole, about Weeden and about fellow former Cowboy Justin Blackmon.

On this year's quarterback class compared to last year's:

I think this year is a little bit deeper. You never expect quarterbacks to come in as rookies, especially in a lockout year, and do what Cam Newton did. Four thousand yards passing, 700 yards rushing has never happened ever, let alone by a rookie in a lockout season. Andy Dalton, 20 touchdown passes, taking a team to the playoffs, and he squares off against T.J. Yates, a rookie from North Carolina. I don't remember 60 rookie starts at the quarterback position ever since the NFL merger, so it would be hard to duplicate that, but I do think this year's crop of quarterbacks is very deep. We had 10 young men in here (for “QB Camp”). I think guys in the second round (could be) Kirk Cousins, Brandon Weeden. I think there's some interesting other quarterbacks like Brock Osweiler, a junior at Arizona State (who is) 6-foot-7 with a rocket arm and better-than-average mobility. I think there's some really interesting young quarterbacks, and those are three of them.

On how he ranks the quarterbacks after Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III:

It depends on what system you're going to run. It depends on what supporting cast you have. It depends on a lot of different factors, and where you play sometimes, as well. But I love Brandon Weeden. I think if you want a quarterback that's tough as hell, that's a winner — remember Weeden already beat Nick Foles in a bowl game two years ago, he beat Robert Griffin 59-24, he beat Andrew Luck in the Fiesta Bowl, he beat Landry Jones, he beat Tannehill. I like Weeden, as you can tell. I would find something for him to do. I like Kirk Cousins at Michigan State. I would look forward to working with him. I like all of these players, but I like Weeden, I think, in the next tier, I really like Kirk Cousins in the next tier and there's something about Russell Wilson at Wisconsin.

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