9. Bryan Bulaga (Ray’s pick)
In his years with the Green Bay Packers, offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga hasn’t been the healthiest of players.
In fact, when GM Ted Thompson and the Packers targeted him as their second highest free agent priority last spring and re-signed him to a five-year $33.75 million contract, many questioned the move.
After all, he has played in just 52 games over his first five years as a Packer – an average right around 10 per-season.
For that kind of money, one would hope a player would be available every game of every season.
But for Bulaga, drafted in the first round (23rd overall) in the 2010 NFL Draft, his skill set and contributions when he’s been on the field are clear. He adds a dimension at right tackle and a versatility that had the Packers tinkering with the idea of moving him to the left side two seasons ago, that makes him one of the best in league.
As a rookie in 2010, he helped lead the Packers to a Super Bowl title by playing in all 16 games and starting 12 of them.
However, that’s when the injury bug hit him.
In 2011, he started all 12 games he played in; it was the same in 2012, but that season he played just nine games.
Then came the big hurt in 2013.
The plan at the time was to move both Bulaga and Josh Sitton to the left side in a major shakeup of the offensive line.
That experiment for Bulaga lasted until August when he went down with a season-ending injury during the team’s “Family Night.” David Bakhtiari took over for him and has remained at left tackle.
When Bulaga came back in 2014, he started at right tackle, missing one game early in the season. Taking his place was Marshall Newhouse, who has since been cut from the squad.
When Bulaga came back and played the rest of the season, his value was clear. He helped solidify what head coach Mike McCarthy calls his best unit since he’s been in Green Bay.
Though Bulaga has missed a large amount of time while in Green Bay, I feel he is still one of Ted Thompson’s top 10 draft picks.
If he stays healthy and plays out the remainder of his contract, he might be considered one of the best to man the right tackle position.
That’s a big “if.”
In the meantime, we hope for the best. Bulaga has the talent, but the question is whether he has the endurance.
Time will tell.
Next: No. 9 (Freddie's pick)