The younger brother of
The 6-foot-3, 300-pounder gets high marks for his athleticism and his performance in the regular-season finale against a
"I think people probably look at Gino and think, 'Oh, he's kind of a small guy,'" Ravens assistant general manager
"He's definitely going to have every opportunity to be a starting center for us this year. He's going to have some competition. He's got the right mentality, the right makeup, the drive to be a good player. He comes from a football family. He's an important piece of the puzzle."
Gradkowski spent his rookie season soaking up knowledge from Birk: learning how to snap the football precisely to quarterback
"I don't think I could ever replace a guy like Matt, especially off the field, with his leadership qualities in the locker room," Gradkowski told The Sun earlier this year. "He's unlike any other person I've ever been around. I'm just excited for the opportunity. I know I'll have to earn this spot because nothing is ever just handed to you."
Gradkowski's most extensive action was against the Bengals, where he was in for 73 of 89 offensive snaps.
"Gino will be fine," Birk said during his retirement announcement in February. "The one thing about football is there's a lot of tangible things or requirements that you need, but I think the biggest thing about football is that it's a character game, because it's hard.
"It's different from other sports, and Gino's got that. He's a great guy. He's got a fantastic family, and Gino will do whatever it takes to be successful."