Position: Offensive Tackle
Projected 40-Time: 4.85
Star Rating: Grade: 95
Draft Projection: 1st Round
Star rating is based on a prospects standing (as of March 5th) in the 2010 Scout.com Draft Rankings. A prospects grade is measured on the following scale:
85-100 = 1st - 2nd
_70-84 = 3rd - 4th
_55-69 = 5th - 6th
_40-54 = 7th Round - UDFA
Strengths: Bulaga is a tall, athletic blocker who possesses the footwork and skill to be an elite bookend at the next level. He’s quick off the snap, has a fast kick slide, bends his knees and uses his long arms and wide base to keep defenders at bay. He moves well laterally, displays proper hand placement and excels against speed rushers. He has good recognition skills, quickly picks up the blitz and works well with his teammates. He’s a solid blocker in space and gets to the second level with ease. He has a nasty demeanor, shows toughness and continues to improve his game. He has tremendous upside.
Weaknesses: He has to improve his upper and lower body strength to develop more as a run blocker. He struggles against physical pass rushers and allows them to initiate contact. He relies on his athleticism, not his technique, to effectively use blocking angles and eliminate defenders from turning the corner. Durability is an issue.Steuber Says: A two-year starter at Iowa, Bulaga has the athleticism and ability to be one of the best offensive tackles in the NFL. At 6-foot-6, 312 pounds, Bulaga could prove to be the best tackle in the draft and move ahead of the consensus No. 1 OT prospect, Oklahoma State’s Russell Okung, in the first round. When there are four OTs so closely graded the way that Bulaga, Okung, Anthony Davis (Rutgers) and Trent Williams (Oklahoma) are, it’s a matter of preference for the teams selecting at the top of the opening frame. Even though Bulaga has great upside, he’s not a finished product. He has to get stronger and improve his run blocking. Bulaga also played with a thyroid condition this past season; a condition that will receive plenty of attention this offseason. The thyroid condition really affected his play, but as the season progressed he got healthy and played much better. He played his best game of the year during the Orange Bowl where he, along with Iowa’s other offensive tackle prospect Kyle Calloway, held Georgia Tech’s top prospect, defensive end Derrick Morgan, to just three tackles. That performance, along with a standout offseason, could elevate Bulaga into top 5 discussion.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also now follow Chris Steuber on Twitter.