Thyroid Problem Impacted Bulaga

The Packers' first-round pick grew up a Bears fan. The team isnt' worried about two poor performances or his short arms. Plus, we have facts and figures from the first round, important dates for the railbirds and much more.

The Packers drafted a Bears fan in the first round.

Don't hold it against Bryan Bulaga, though. He was born in the northern Illinois community of Crystal Lake.

"I like the Bears, yeah," he said via a conference call about 20 minutes after being drafted. "I'm from Northern Illinois, but I think my allegiance has changed for sure now."

Bulaga missed three games early last season due to thyroiditis, which left him fatigued and losing weight. He was put on predisone, which solved the problem, and is no longer using any medication.

"It was resolved from the fifth week of the season and I haven't had any problems since then," he said. "I've gotten checkups all the way up until draft day and everything's been cleared perfectly."

After facing Arkansas State in his first game back, Bulaga gave up two sacks against Michigan's Brandon Graham — his only sacks allowed all season — and also struggled against Wisconsin's O'Brien Schofield. Bulaga chalked it up to breakdowns in technique stemming from limited practice reps upon returning to the team.

General manager Ted Thompson said he was "not overly" concerned about Bulaga's ability to handle speed rushers like Graham and Schofield, and offensive coordinator Joe Philbin discounted Bulaga's "short" arms. Bulaga's arms measured 33 1/4 inches; 33 inches is considered the minimum for a left tackle.

"If he uses his hands well and is a good puncher, I think it's great. If he grabs and keeps his elbow outside the framework and reaches and grabs for people, I think it's too short," Philbin said. "It depends – a little bit of that is fundamental. Would you love a guy to have 35-inch arms and be a great puncher? That's not bad, either. I don't think there's an absolute that you can't play the position. Chad's 33 (inches), if I'm not mistaken. When he executes his technique, he punches as well as anybody in the game."

Bulaga potentially will get another shot at Graham in Week 1 of the season. The Eagles used their first-round pick on Graham.

"I would love to. I would love to get another opportunity to play him," Bulaga said. "I think as I got really toward the season, I was hitting full stride of where I should be playing and I played very well down the stretch, so yeah, I would be ecstatic to get a second opportunity at him."

Draft schedule

The second and third rounds begin at 5 p.m. Central on Friday. Rounds 4-7 start at 9 a.m. Saturday. There are 7 minutes per pick in the second round and 5 minutes per pick thereafter.

On the clock

Barring a trade, of course, the Packers have picks in the second and third rounds: Nos. 56 and 86. The Packers had the 23rd pick of the first round; they'll have the 24th pick in the second round and the 22nd pick in the third. Why the discrepancy? The Eagles and Packers flip-flip in every round, based on them sharing 11-5 records last season. In the third round, Washington forfeited its third-round choice by using a third-rounder in the supplemental draft.

Draft quick hits

— Of the 32 first-round picks, 17 were underclassmen.

— Seven defensive backs went in Round 1, followed by five defensive tackles, four defensive ends and four offensive tackles.

— Oklahoma had four first-round picks, followed by Florida with three and Alabama, California, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State, Rutgers and Tennessee with two.

— The Big 12 had nine first-round picks, followed by the SEC with seven, ACC with four, Big East, Big Ten and WAC with three, the Pac-10 with two and Mountain West with one.

Go camping

The Packers will open training camp on July 31. Before that, their three-day rookie symposium begins on Friday. Organized team activities will be open to reporters and fans on four Wednesdays: May 19, June 2, June 9 and June 16. All are tentatively set for 11:15 a.m. The mandatory minicamp will be held June 21-23.

Cha-ching

For what it's worth, last year's 23rd overall selection was offensive tackle Michael Oher. The Ravens gave him $13.8 million over five years, with $7.8 million guaranteed.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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