Tag:Bryan Bulaga
Posted on: August 24, 2010 3:36 pm
 

5 Most Disappointing Rookies So Far

There are lots of opinions out there as to which rookies will have an immediate impact this year. The popularity of fantasy football puts most of the attention on skill position players, but hardcore fans are just as interested in offensive linemen or safeties (or any other position) giving their favorite teams immediate and significant playing time.

I've featured several higher round picks like C.J. Spiller , Bryan Bulaga and Brandon Spikes already as players I fully expected to stand out as rookies and, at least in the preseason, have done so. 

I've also listed 10 players drafted in the 3rd round or later who have impressed as rookies.

The following five players make up the exact opposite story. They are five well-hyped prospects who have thus struggled to acclimate to the NFL.

QB Colt McCoy, Cleveland: McCoy was recently among a list of eight players characterized by Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer as "need[ing] good showings in the last two games to make the roster." McCoy, in two games, has only completed 5 of 12 passes for 25 yards. He's thrown two interceptions and taken two sacks.

RB Toby Gerhart, Minnesota: The Vikings were hopeful that Gerhart would win the 3rd down role behind Adrian Peterson. Gerhart's inconsistent hands and route-running is a concern. So too is the lack of foot quickness he's shown so far. Gerhart can help this team as a short-yardage specialist, but that may be it.

WR Armanti Edwards, Carolina: Edwards has flashed for the Panthers, but he's shown just how tough it is to switch from college quarterback to NFL wide receiver. He's had issues at receiver and punt returner and may require a "redshirt" year.

WR Golden Tate, Seattle: The 2009 Biletnikof winner, Tate has been a star in training camp, but in the games -- where he's needed to run crisper routes -- he's struggled to demonstrate the same playmaking ability. Tate will be fine. He's too talented not to, but he has only three catches for 13 yards in two games so far.

RB Joe McKnight, New York Jets: I remember when McKnight signed with USC out of the state of Louisiana as one of the most hyped prep prospects in the country. He never showed the agility and balance of Reggie Bush -- the guy he was signed to replace -- at USC though, at times, he received similar hype. McKnight is a terrific athlete, but I haven't seen the toughness out of him so far to think the Jets can keep him on the field much this year.

Posted on: August 21, 2010 11:59 pm
Edited on: August 22, 2010 12:22 am
 

Bulaga impressive as GB's backup LT, LG

If the season goes as hoped for the Green Bay Packers, first round pick Bryan Bulaga won't see much time at left tackle. The Packers feature former Pro Bowler Chad Clifton on the left side and certainly don't want to have to trust Aaron Rodgers' blindside protection with a rookie.

However, with Clifton, Rodgers and the rest of Green Bay's starters comfortably on the sideline, Bulaga has been impressive working againt Seattle's starting defense throughout the second quarter of the team's preseason game tonight.

Bulaga, playing left tackle matched up against Seattle's best pass rusher -- DE Chris Clemons -- throughout much of the second quarter. While Clemons has occasionally challenged Bulaga with a speed rush, the former Iowa Hawkeye has done a nice job protecting backup quarterback Matt Flynn and providing big running lanes.

Bulaga has the footwork necessary to remain at left tackle, though he isn't an elite athlete. He's shown good upper body strength, routinely latching onto Clemons and controlling him. Bulaga's anchor has also been impressive. Clemons was flagged late in the second quarter for getting his hands too high into Bulaga's facemask, but the No. 23 overall pick of the 2010 draft held his ground surprisingly well. He's also done a nice job in the running game, popping Clemons quickly and turning him either inside to set the edge or outside to open up a clear gap for the Packers' backup runners.

Beginning in the third quarter, Bulaga was moved inside to left guard. While his play there has been solid, his inexperience at the position was obvious. Quinn Pitcock, a backup defensive tackle struggling to earn a roster spot, beat him off the snap on a few occasions with a quick burst early on. There were also times when his initial punch was too high, giving the Seattle DTs an opportunity to rush the passer after being stopped initially. As the third quarter went on, however, Bulaga seemed to gain confidence inside. Again, the power that was evident against Clemons when playing left tackle proved helpful at left guard. Bulaga was consistently able to land the initial pop to the defender and generate running lanes.

Currently listed as the backup left tackle and left guard for the Packers, Bulaga is likely to see plenty of playing time as a rookie.

If tonight's performance was any indication, Bulaga appears capable of helping immediately and like a potential future standout at whatever position the Packers most need help along the left side.



Posted on: April 22, 2010 9:22 pm
 

Derrick Morgan's slip among the early surprises

With roughly half of the draft finished and three collegiate defensive ends off the board, the most surprising development might be that Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan, characterized to me by various teams to be the "safest" of this year's class, slipped to the Tennessee Titans at No. 16.

The ACC Defensive Player of the Year registered 12.5 sacks for the Yellow Jackets, improving significantly each of his three seasons at Georgia Tech after signing as a highly touted prep prospect.

Morgan, however, was shut down in a highly anticipated matchup against Iowa's Bryan Bulaga in the bowl game, which could have left a bad taste in the mouth of scouts considering it was his last his performance.

He fills a clear need with the Tennessee Titans, who missed having an impact defensive lineman following Albert Haynesworth's free agency defection.

Posted on: April 21, 2010 9:06 am
Edited on: April 21, 2010 9:07 am
 

Impact on top five if Rams took Suh

As I mentioned in my last blog posting, St. Louis' trading of veteran defensive tackle Adam Carriker to the Washington Redskins opens the door for the Rams to take either of the top-rated defensive tackles, Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy, over quarterback Sam Bradford with the top pick.

Though I still believe the most likely scenario has St. Louis taking Bradford, here is what could happen if the Rams did so. For the sake of argument, I'm focusing on Suh, because, quite frankly, based on conversations I've had with members of the Rams organization and others throughout the league, I believe him to the higher rated player on their board. I will say this on Gerald McCoy's behalf, however. Suh is not the consensus choice as the top DT in their organization.

Assuming that the Rams took Suh, however, the Detroit Lions would then be in terrific position. While they would have lost out on NFLDraftScout.com's No. 1 rated player, they still would have the option of another penetrating defensive tackle in McCoy, taking an offensive tackle in Russell Okung or Trent Williams to protect their investment in Matt Stafford or looking to trade out to a team wanting Bradford.

In this scenario, I believe the team might switch things up and go with Okung, based on conversations I've had with league sources.

Tampa has similar needs at DT, OT and could also trade the pick. McCoy is such a perfect fit for their defense, however, that I still see them as taking him... if they stayed at 3.

The Bucs would almost surely get some interesting trade proposals, however, as most believe the Washington Redskins, despite the addition of Donovan McNabb, would surely take the suddenly slipping Bradford with the fourth overall pick.

Kansas City's need along the offensive line and Scott Pioli's focus on "safe" players likely would result in his still taking a tackle. Trent Wiliams, though not quite the established pass blocker that Russell Okung is, would make sense, though Iowa's Bryan Bulaga would remain a possibility.

While the players drafted in the top five might remain the same regardless of who the Rams took at No. 1, the order in which they came off the board would change dramatically.

As a recap, here is how things could go if the Rams took Suh first:

St. Louis -- Ndamukong Suh
Detroit -- Russell Okung
Tampa Bay -- Gerald McCoy
Washington -- Sam Bradford
Kansas City --  Trent Williams

And as I see it most likely happening tomorrow night: 

St. Louis -- Sam Bradford
Detroit -- Ndamukong Suh
Tampa Bay -- Gerald McCoy
Washington -- Trent Williams
Kansas City -- Russell Okung
 
And that, my friends, is why predicting the topsy-turvy first round is such a inexact science -- even the top five.

Posted on: April 11, 2010 12:27 pm
 

First "surprise" of draft? Williams leaps Okung

With only ten days to go until draft day is here, the top of the first round is beginning to take shape.

Barring colossal trade offers, the Rams will take Sam Bradford, the Lions will take Ndamukong Suh and the Bucs will take Gerald McCoy.

Since trading for quarterback Donovan McNabb, it has been obvious the Redskins would be looking to fill their biggest need -- offensive tackle -- with the 4th pick of the draft. With Oklahoma State's Russell Okung the top-rated tackle by many, including NFLDraftScout.com, he seemed the natural candidate to replace former Pro Bowler Chris Samuels as the Redskins' starting left tackle.

Except that Okung isn't the top-rated tackle by the Redskins. Oklahoma's Trent Williams is.

I reported nearly three weeks ago that Okung is far from the consensus top-rated tackle. While most teams had Okung rated as the best, a sizable number had Williams as the better prospect. One team had Iowa's Bryan Bulaga as the best of the 2010 class.

Okung is the safe pick. Williams, due to his greater athleticism, has the higher upside.

Most importantly (at least in terms of the Washington Redskins), he's the better fit in Mike Shanahan's zone-blocking offense.

There are sure to be plenty of surprises on draft day. Some will characterize the first one as the Redskins' decision to draft Trent Williams over Russell Okung.

Considering that I've felt for weeks that Williams would likely be the first tackle taken , I won't be among those surprised... and neither should you. 
Posted on: March 25, 2010 1:38 pm
 

Lions thinking Trent Williams at 2?

Two days ago I wrote that the Detroit Lions might have another offensive tackle in mind than Russell Okung with the second overall pick.

Today, Lions general manager Martin Mayhew confirmed as much, according to an article penned by Nicholas J. Cotsonika of The Detroit Free Press. Cotsonika asked Mayhew a question about Okung and whether he was the top tackle in the class.

Mayhew's comment back was: “I think big picture, overall, taking everything into account, there are probably two guys that are the best two out there.”

The comment, taken out of context, does not mention Okung nor any other player by name. However, since the question asked was about Okung, it seems reasonable to assume that Okung is among the two OTs Mayhew is referring to.

Cotsonika asked the logical follow-up question as to who the second offensive tackle was. Mayhew, not surprisingly, declined to identify him. (Or for that matter, verify that Okung was among the top two.)

In the previous blog post I wrote (linked above), I'd reported that three different offensive tackles were nominated by scouts as the top at the position -- Okung (who received 2 of the 4 votes), Oklahoma's Trent Williams and Iowa's Bryan Bulaga.

What is interesting about my little straw poll was the feedback I've received from scouts since I wrote about it.

I've spoken to several scouts and frotn office executives throughout the league who adamantly proclaimed that Bulaga, due to his short arms (32.5") and only marginal upside "did not deserve to be in the conversation" as the top OT. One source noted that there were zero offensive line coaches present at Iowa's Pro Day, whereas there were "several" at Oklahoma State and Oklahoma's.

In these conversations Okung was repeatedly characterized as the "safest" of this year's class, but that it was Williams whom scouts felt had the most upside.

Last year, the tackle many scouts felt was safest -- Virginia's Eugene Monroe -- "fell" to Jacksonville and 8th pick. The tackle scouts felt had the most upside -- Baylor's Jason Smith -- went to the Rams with the second overall pick.

Could Trent Williams be poised to accomplish the same feat?

Personally, I'd still be surprised to see anyone other than Ndamukong Suh be the second pick of this draft, but if the Lions elect to protect their investment in quarterback Matt Stafford with a blindside protector, Trent Williams, not Russell Okung, could be the pick.
Posted on: March 23, 2010 5:02 pm
 

Okung not the consensus top OT

Lately there has been growing speculation that if the St. Louis Rams take Sam Bradford with the first pick of the 2010 draft, as expected, the Detroit Lions might pick left tackle Russell Okung next.

The rationale behind taking an offensive tackle is simple. The Lions just invested nearly 42 million guaranteed dollars into quarterback Matt Stafford. They need him protected. The Lions have also added defensive linemen Corey Williams and Kyle Vanden Bosch during the off-season, lessening the need for Ndamukong suh or Gerald McCoy, the defensive tackles most rate as the two best players in the draft.

According to sources throughout the league, however, if the Lions do indeed take an offensive tackle second overall, it won't necessarily be Okung.

I spoke to representatives of four teams in the past few days. Though none of the representatives were willing to tell me who their team, collectively, had as their top-rated offensive tackle, I was able to get their personal opinions on who should be the first blocker drafted April 22nd.

Two of the four polled had Okung as the top rated tackle. Iowa's Bryan Bulaga and Oklahoma's Trent Williams, however, each received a vote, as well.

Okung, a four year starter, has the experience and consistency scouts like. The two scouts who picked Bulaga and Williams, however, nitpicked about his lack of elite athleticism and conversion from a spread attack.

The conversion from a spread attack applies to Trent Williams, as well. Williams, who demonstrated eye-popping athleticism at the Combine, has only one season at left tackle, however. There are some who believe he has the most upside of this talented OT class.

Bulaga is actually viewed as the safest of the trio by many scouts, including three of the four I polled. Already technically refined, however, he may lack Okung and Williams' upside, which is why he only earned the one vote as the best tackle of the class. 

Regardless of the order they are selected, there is a growing consensus that all three tackles will be drafted among the top ten.

Some believe, in fact, that the three will join with Bradford, Suh and McCoy in some order as the top six picks of the draft.

Posted on: March 19, 2010 1:05 pm
 

Redskins at No. 4 key to Top Ten

Last year I argued that the Seattle Seahawks were the key to how the top ten would play out.

They had expressed considerable interest in quarterback Mark Sanchez, had a greater need at offensive tackle and employed a general manager in Tim Ruskell who favored safe players like outside linebacker Aaron Curry.

The Seahawks obviously went with Curry with the fourth pick of the draft.

The ramifications of this decision, of course, were that the Browns traded their pick to the Jets, who took Sanchez and the run on offensive linemen continued in the top ten despite Seattle ignoring the position.

This year the Washington Redskins own the fourth pick. They're the team thought likely by league insiders to control what happens early in the first round.

It is possible that the Lions surprise and select OT Russell Okung second overall to protect their young quarterback Matt Stafford, but most in the league believe the three best players in the 2010 draft are Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy -- likely going in that order to the Rams, Lions and Bucs, respectively.

The Redskins have a need for a young quarterback, especially considering that Jason Campbell is a restricted free agent expected to sign a one year deal. The Redskins recently signed former first round pick Rex Grossman, but he too, is only signed through next season. There are some who believe Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen is destined for the Redskins.

Others, however, point to Washington's lack of talent at offensive tackle. The retirement of Chris Samuels opened up a gaping hole at left tackle that veteran Levi Jones struggled to fill last year when Samuels was hurt. Right tackle isn't much better with Stephon Heyer.

Still others have argued that a good Washington defense could carry the team in Mike Shanahan's first year if he were to find more playmakers in the secondary. LaRon Landry hasn't produced as expected to his point and has been outplayed by Chris Horton. Eric Berry, who many believe to the be in conversation with Bradford, Suh and McCoy as the elite players in this draft could be a tempting option.

The shoddy depth and extreme importance of the quarterback position could force Shanahan to grab Clausen. If so, you can expect the next best quarterbacks -- Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow, Tony Pike, etc -- to be pushed up the board that much higher.

The same would apply at OT or S should the Redskins go in those directions. There is no denying that along with defensive linemen, offensive tackles and safeties are the strengths of this draft. Three offensive tackles went in the top ten last year. Should Washington select Okung at No. 4, Iowa's Bryan Bulaga and Oklahoma's Trent Williams may not be far behind.

The more intriguing scenario might be if Washington selects Berry. Only twice since 1993 have there been three pure safeties selected in the first round (1998, 2007). This will almost surely occur in 2010 with Berry, Texas' Earl Thomas and USC's Taylor Mays all likely to be drafted in the opening frame. Should Berry go early, however, a run on safeties could result, pushing South Florida's Nate Allen into the mix.


 
 
 
 
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