Jeremy Zuttah a priority for Bucs

According to this article, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are interested in re-signing Jeremy Zuttah and view him as a priority this offseason. New coach Greg Schiano was Zuttah’s head coach in college at Rutgers, so there is a link from the past that is working in the left guard’s favor. Zuttah was a third round pick in the 2008 draft and is just 26 years old. His youth and versatility, he is capable of playing at both guard and center, are particular points of interest for the Bucs.

Last season, the Pro Football Focus graded Jeremy Zuttah as a -0.9 player which is  only slightly below average. While he is a mediocre player at this point, Zuttah is the second best offensive lineman on the Buccaneers behind left tackle Donald Penn. He is the only offensive linemen on the Bucs who isn’t overrated, and one can make the case that he is a bit underrated. At the young age of 26, there is still plenty of time for Zuttah to develop, and he has already shown promise as a pass protector.

Nov 20, 2011; Green Bay, WI, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard Jeremy Zuttah (76) blocks during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. The Packers defeated the Buccaneers 35-26. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

In 2010, Zuttah broke out of his shell in his third season, but not to the effect of Josh Freeman, and put in a solid performance as a pass blocker. While Jeremy Zuttah does show flashes of brilliance as a run blocker and is good at pulling, he has yet to get down that part of the game consistently. However, the Bucs offensive line on a whole struggles with their pass protection and are better at run blocking (most namely right guard Davin Joseph).

The problem is that the Bucs do not utilize Jeremy Zuttah correctly, because he is a better center than guard. At guard, he is underwhelming and is  below average overall, but things start to click when he is slotted in as the center. He will be a solid center in the future if given the chance, but the Bucs currently have the overpaid Jeff Faine stuck in front of him with a contract that won’t end until 2014.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.

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Topics: Davin Joseph, Donald Penn, Free Agency, Greg Schiano, Jeff Faine, Jeremy Zuttah, Josh Freeman, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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