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Bucs' third-round pick Zuttah is versatile offensive lineman

Jeremy Zuttah

Jeremy Zuttah

TAMPA — Former Rutgers offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah isn't picky about where he lines up on the field.

That's largely because the Bucs' third-round pick considers himself a team player who "does what's best for the team."

How? Consider.

"At Rutgers, there were a couple of years where we would just find the best other four offensive linemen," he said. "And then I would just put myself in at whatever (position) was open because whatever helped the team was what I was willing to do."

That displayed not only his willingness to help out, but ability to play multiple roles. In this case, multiple means having played tackle, guard and center.

Zuttah envisions himself as a Bucs interior lineman, most likely a guard. Of course, the Bucs spent a 2006 first-round pick (Davin Joseph) and 2007 second-round pick (Arron Sears) on their current starting guards.

So where does Zuttah fit in? No one seems sure, though coach Jon Gruden said a variety of options are on the table, everything from tackle to center. There has been discussion of moving Jeremy Trueblood from right to left tackle, which would create an opportunity for Zuttah.

Wherever he plays, Zuttah provides a stout run-blocker. He was a key to the success of Ray Rice, the Ravens' second-round pick who left Rutgers with a school-record 4,926 yards.

"I'm very athletic," Zuttah said. "But when it gets down to it, I like to be a physical, in-your-face player."

The Bucs believe they already have a few of those. And with the 2007 first-team all-Big East pick, they have another building block for a young, formidable line.

"(Bucs coaches) just told me they have a very young offensive line right now and they have a lot of guys who were familiar to me from the college football ranks," Zuttah said.

"It's good to have everybody be young and be on the same page. We'll grow up together, and we'll mature together in the league. And hopefully, we'll come together as a unit."

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at sholder@sptimes.com.

Meet Jeremy Zuttah

Guard/Tackle Rutgers, 6-4, 303, Round 3, 83rd pick

Highlights/stats

Four-year starter anchored the offensive line with 28 straight starts at right tackle. … Did not allow a sack as Scarlet Knights ranked second in I-A in 2007 and first in 2006 in sacks allowed. … Went 698 pass plays without allowing a sack.

THE VERDICT

The Bucs have invested a lot of high draft picks in the offensive line in the past three seasons. They came within one choice in the first round of taking Pittsburgh left tackle Jeff Otah, who went 19th to Carolina. Zuttah is solid and can be a swing guy who can play guard or tackle. Eventually, the Bucs could move Jeremy Trueblood to left tackle, his natural position at Boston College, and play Zuttah at right tackle.

Bucs' third-round pick Zuttah is versatile offensive lineman 04/27/08 [Last modified: Sunday, April 27, 2008 8:24pm]
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