Bryan Bulaga, 2010 NFL Draft

Bryan-Bulaga

Offensive Tackle

University of Iowa

Junior

6’ 6” 312 lbs.

Strengths: Leverage, Size, Feet, Strength, Intelligence

Weaknesses: Medical Issues, Experience, Technique

By Bryan Dietzler

The decision that Bryan Bulaga made to come out a year early may have been one of the best decisions that could have been made by any junior in this year’s 2010 NFL Draft.  Bulaga has the kind of skill and size that NFL teams will be looking for this year and he could end up being a pretty high draft pick.  So what makes Bulaga so special?  What does he have to offer NFL teams?  Let’s find out.

Bulaga brings great size to the position standing six feet six inches and weighing 312 pounds.  This is the kind of size in an offensive tackle that NFL scouts love.  While some players that size are not stellar athletes, Bulaga is indeed a solid athlete and is one of the better athletes at the offensive tackle position in this year’s draft.  Bulaga is able to get off of the line quickly and engage the defender right where it counts and keep contact with the defender until the play is finished.  Bulaga’s hand work is very good as well and he places his hands well and keeps them on the defender.

Bulaga is also a long strider who gets from one point to another very quickly.  Even though he is tall (his legs are very long) Bulaga has a lower center of gravity than most offensive tackles built like him which is a plus.  Bulaga also has a huge wingspan and his long arms help keep defenders away from his body (which he does very well) and allows him to control defenders at the point of attack.  While there is some room for Bulaga to get stronger he is still one of the strongest offensive tackles available and should be able to outmuscle many NFL defenders with the strength that he has.

Bulaga quietly makes big plays in all phases of the game and is a strong asset in the red zone especially at the goal line.  He would make a great lineman to run behind when trying to get the ball in the end zone from short distances.  He moves his feet very well also and can move from side to side effectively keeping contact with the defenders.  With his long reach, he is able to keep his hands on defenders and move them the way that he wants (re-direct). 

Bulaga has a big time mean streak which is essential for any NFL left tackle.  He is also very strong and won’t be outrushed by most defenders in the NFL providing he can work on his technique and continue to improve.  Bulaga is also good at picking up defenders on blitzes.  Overall, his pass protection is solid and he doesn’t struggle there.  He is sound fundamentally run blocking but could use some work there.  Finally, Bulaga does very well at finishing his blocks and blocks until the whistle blows.  He is a smart player who learns quickly and is a true leader.

Bulaga doesn’t have too many faults but there are a few that will make some scouts think about drafting him.  The biggest issue that he has deals with some medical concerns.  He currently has a thyroid condition that was an issue in the past and could flare up again.  He has also been hurt at various points in his college career and could dissuade some teams from drafting him early.  In coming out a year early, Bulaga isn’t as experienced as some of the other tackles in the 2010 NFL Draft and this might end up hurting him as well.  He might have a learning curve as a result. 

Bulaga, while a strong run blocker, will need some help becoming a much stronger run blocker especially when he gets to the second level.  He could also stand to get a little bit stronger.

Since coming to the Hawkeyes, Bulaga has gained the following honors:

2009-Preseason all-American by Phil Steele, preseason first team All Big Ten by Phil Steele and Lindy’s, first team left tackle.

2008-Second team all Big Ten by coaches, honorable mention all Big Ten by media, first team all Big Ten by Phil Steele, second team sophomore all American by CollegeFootballNews.com, Hustle Team Award for the offense.

2007-Named to the Freshman all Big Ten Team by the Sporting News.

High School-Parade Magazine, Prep Star Magazine and East West All American.  USA Today second team all American.  The IHSFCA, Chicago Tribune and the Champaign News Gazette first team all state, Suburban Catholic Conference and Northwest Herald Area Player of the Year, Chicago Sun Times first team all area, first team all area and all conference.

The Final Word

Bulaga is one of the top offensive tackle prospects in the NFL Draft this year and should be taken somewhere in the middle or late part of the first round.  Health will be the biggest question and if he grades out well there then there is no reason to think that no one will be afraid of taking him.  With that being said, it’s possible, if he is drafted by the right team, that he could have a long and successful career in the NFL.

Prediction: Drafted between 15 and 24.