Consistency will be key for new Ravens center Jeremy Zuttah

The Ravens, at first glance, appear to have gotten better at center after trading Sunday for Jeremy Zuttah.

Zuttah, a 2008 third-round pick, is an established veteran, having started 76 games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during his six-year NFL career. After bouncing around between both guard positions and the center spot, Zuttah was mostly a center for the Buccaneers in recent years.

But while he should be an upgrade over Gino Gradkowski, it is no sure thing he will stabilize the position.

Zuttah has pretty good athleticism for his size -- he is 6-foot-4 and tips the scales at 308 pounds -- and there is a reason why he started all those games for the Buccaneers. But he has never been selected to a Pro Bowl and was deemed expendable by the new regime in Tampa Bay, perhaps because of his inconsistency.

Pro Football Focus gives every player an individual grade for every game they play. If a player has a strong game, they will wind up with a green grade. If they play a poor game, they will be in the red. Many players are often in the middle, receiving no color whatsoever.

Zuttah’s grades fluctuated wildly during his time in Tampa Bay. He had 24 games where he received a green grade from Pro Football Focus. He had 27 games where he received a red grade, including 11 over the past two seasons.

Still, despite his up-and-down play, Zuttah was graded out by Pro Football Focus as the 22nd-best center in the NFL in 2013. His overall grade was well below that of their top center, Jason Kelce of the Philadelphia Eagles. But it was also much better than that of Gradkowski, who had nine red games and was graded out as the worst center in the league by PFF.

So while Zuttah looks to be an upgrade over Gradkowski, who struggled in his second NFL season, the 27-year-old must be a more consistent performer in Baltimore for center to again be considered a position of strength for the Ravens.

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