The Tampa Bay Buccaneers used their third-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft to select Rutgers offensive tackle Jeremy Zuttah on Sunday.
A four-year starter, Zuttah is considered a versatile offensive lineman. While he can play guard, Zuttah started 28 straight games at right tackle. Zuttah believes he will play guard for the Buccaneers.
“I’ll be inside," Zuttah said when asked where Tampa Bay would play him. "You know they got a lot of young lineman and a lot of people playing a lot of different positions. When it comes down to it they like my versatility. Nothing’s set in stone or whatever but right now they’ll have me inside.
“I don’t see myself sitting at any one mode or whatever, just whatever can get me on the field the fastest and whatever is best for the team I’ll play. At Rutgers there was a couple years where we found the best other four offensive lineman and I just went in to whatever was the fifth spot, and what spot was open. Whatever was best for the team I’d do.”
The 6-foot-3, 295-pound Zuttah also possesses a rare combination of size, speed and strength. He ran the best 40-yard dash time of any offensive lineman at the NFL Combine with a 4.99 and put up 35 reps of 225 pounds at the Combine.
Zuttah used his attributes to register 191 career knockdowns and open up a plethora of running lanes for Rutgers running back Ray Rice. The David Bender Trophy winner also led a Rutgers offensive line that ranked second in the nation in fewest sacks allowed in 2007. He did not allow a sack in his final two seasons at Rutgers.
“Yeah we ran the ball a lot but our offense was real balanced we had two 1,000 yard runners and two 1,000 yard receivers so obviously we’re very balanced,” said Zuttah of Rutgers' success. “We took pride in doing both things. We were second in the nation in sacks this year and first last year so I mean I think I'm prepared to do well in the next level.”
Tampa Bay has made an effort to bolster its offensive line in recent drafts, selecting right guard Davin Joseph (2006 – first round), right tackle Jeremy Trueblood (2006 – second round) and left guard Arron Sears (2007 – second round).
Tampa Bay also made Jeff Faine the highest-paid center during offseason with a six-year, $37.5 million deal and inked Petitgout to a multi-year deal during the 2007 offseason. Both players originally entered the NFL as first-round draft picks.
Zuttah is looking forward to being part of the youth movement and competing along Tampa Bay's offensive line.
“I spoke with Coach Gruden and Coach Muir,” said Zuttah. “They told me about the fact they have very young o-line and they had a lot of guys that were familiar to me from college football ranks guys like Arron Sears and Jeff Faine things like that. It's good to have everybody young and on the same page we’ll grow up together we’ll mature together in the league and hopefully we’ll come together as a unit.”
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Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com