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Bryan Bulaga Comfortable at Right Tackle for Green Bay Packers

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Bryan Bulaga Comfortable at Right Tackle for Green Bay Packers

When the Green Bay Packers released Chad Clifton in April, their starting left tackle for much of the past 12 years, there was some speculation that Bryan Bulaga could be asked to take over those duties and become the cornerstone left tackle for the next dozen seasons.

Head coach Mike McCarthy put those thoughts to rest after the NFL Draft by saying Bulaga would remain at right tackle, and according to 2010 first-round draft choice himself, that suits him fine.

"I'm happy with where I'm at," Bulaga told reporters following Wednesday's organized team activity practice. "I'm comfortable there. I like playing next to (right guard Josh) Sitton, so it works out well."

Bulaga has played right tackle almost exclusively since entering the NFL as a rookie in 2010. He took over midway through his first season when veteran Mark Tauscher landed on injured reserve, and he's held down the fort ever since.

The job Bulaga was able to do in the final six games of 2010, the final two games of the regular season and the four playoff games, was a big reason the Packers won the Super Bowl when he was able to keep opposing pass rushers away from quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Building off a solid rookie season, Bulaga continued the same trend in 2011, which got him a vote of confidence from the Packers head coach.

When asked following the NFL Draft if the Packers would move Bulaga to left tackle, McCarthy said, “I don't see any reason to go down that road. I think Bryan is on the verge of being a Pro Bowler at right tackle. I look for him to have that type of season. He looks great. He was here throughout the winter. I don't think he's even left Green Bay for a long period of time.”

There's something to be said about continuity. Certainly, Bulaga seems to be settling in just fine on the right side.

Barring injury or unseen circumstances, Bulaga and Sitton could conceivably hold down the fort on the right side of the offensive line for years to come.

But there's risk involved in leaving the left tackle spot, Rodgers' blind side, in the hands of Marshall Newhouse, Derek Sherrod or anyone else on the roster for that matter.

Newhouse played left tackle for the majority of last season in the absence of Clifton who missed 10 games due to hamstring and back injuries. And while Newhouse played well considering he was receiving the first action of his professional career, he gave up too many sacks for comfort.

If Newhouse is able to develop and improve, the Packers could be in good hands. But if he stagnates, the Packers might have to turn to elsewhere.

Sherrod is a question mark after breaking his leg last season, which has relegated him to the sidelines during the offseason program.

Beyond him, other options are rookie seventh rounder Andrew Datko and journeyman Herb Taylor. Neither of those players are the ideal replacement for Clifton, or in the case of Datko, at least not in 2012.

Just in case anything were to happen be it injury or otherwise, Bulaga is ready to play the role of good soldier and fill in where needed. But he said he's not spending any time worrying about playing left tackle.

"You've got to learn all positions: play left tackle, play right tackle, play guard," said Bulaga. "You have to be ready for anything that happens, injuries happen, so you've just got to be ready."

McCarthy suggested Bulaga is on the verge of becoming a Pro Bowl caliber player at right tackle.

Asked whether that's a goal of his, Bulaga replied, "I just want to win, period."

If winning means adding another Lombardi Trophy to the cases at 1265 Lombardi Ave., it won't matter whether Bulaga is at right tackle, left tackle or left field.

That's all anyone wants in the NFL.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (33) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

mark's picture

I've been saying this all off-season: LT is my biggest worry in 2012.

Forget RB, forget OLB and safety. I worry about Sherrod, Newhouse, and ???

We don't have an established guy protecting the franchise's blindside. That, to me, is a worry. Hopefully somebody steps up.

MarkinMadison's picture

I can't quote you chapter and verse, but Newhouse's stats last season did not look significantly different from Bulaga's stats in his first season as a starter. I think Newhouse will be at least serviceable this year, and maybe better if he has prepared well this off season. Beyond Newhouse, I'm wondering how much strength training Sherrod was able to do while recovering from a broken leg. My perception was that his upper body strength needed work last year, and maybe he was still able to find ways to work on this area. Certainly he will need to rebuild his lower body strength for at least several weeks. I just hope he is patient and does not rush onto the field too soon. Hopefully, he can be the swing backup this year and by mid-season challenge for a starting spot if Newhouse is faltering.

PackersRS's picture

Truth be told, Bulaga sucked his first season. His progression from season 1 to season 2 was something I'd never seen. From complete liability to one of the best in the game. So I don't think the comparison is fair.

But I agree with the thought. Newhouse will progress. He has shown the intelligence and the athletic skills to do so. His feet are not the quickest, but we've been spoiled with Clifton.

MarkinMadison's picture

It's hard to compare the two, really. Bulaga was a true rookie when he started. So lower floor expected the first year, more potential upside in the second. I guess the basic point I was trying to make we agree on - there are lots of reasons to think that Newhouse will be serviceable this year.

Chris's picture

Newhouse played a significant amount of time on a team that went 15-1. Yeah he gave up a few too many sacks but he did good ehough to help his team to the #1 seed. A good offseason and he'll be ready to rock.

ppabich's picture

And of all the many reasons the Packers lost the playoff game, the Giants defensive line really wasn't one of them. They had an average game.

bomdad's picture

I'm more worried about Saturday and his backup than Newhouse/Sherrod/3rd string guy at LT.

Nerd's Laptop's picture

Agreed, esp with Datko in the mix. Keep in mind Lang can also get it done at LT.

ppabich's picture

If I had to put money down, Datko doesn't make the team.

Oppy's picture

Datko probably has as much -talent- as any other OT on the squad, including Sherrod and Bulaga. He was a victim of an injury that caused him to miss an entire season before the draft.

if he had declared for the draft the previous year, he was projected as a late first/early second round prospect.

He might not make the team, but I bet the Packers would like to find a way to keep him on the 53 because he probably won't stay hidden on PS too long. The demand for OT's is high and teams will pluck him when injuries arise.. Remember how long Jamon Meredith lasted on PS?

I personally think Datko will end up on PS as well, but I'm betting the Packers will be lamenting having to try to sneak him by there.

cpheph1's picture

I think Ted & Mike will keep 26 offensive players...and they'll keep 2-3 young guys they feel have potential. My WAG is Datko will be the 9th and final OLman...or maybe they stash him on IR...but trying to slide him onto the PR is a risk if he truly is a guy you believe has potential.

Rocky70's picture

Newhouse gave up 11.5 sacks in 13 starts in 2011 at LT. That's an obscene number of sacks allowed. ----- So, how much does he have to improve before he's sent to the sidelines? I just hope Sherrod is ready at some point in time (And actually can play like a 1st rounder) in 2012. Sacrificing your MVP QB so a 5th round LT can develope just could destroy an entire season.

Chris k's picture

That is how you fill out a roster effectively. You have to rely upon players progressing from year 1 to 2 to 3; this is what McCarthy preaches so often... Not everyone can be a first or second rounder man

Oppy's picture

It's a ton of sacks, and the coaches were actually impressed with the fact that when Newhouse made a mistake, it was identified and he did not make the same mistake twice.

Also of note, I don't know if another tackle in the league had to face as many premier pass rushers as Newhouse..

Let's see how the kid looks in camp.

Lou's picture

12 years ago the Packers were extremely fortunate to draft both Clifton and Taucher (per Ron Wolf the Pillsbury Doughboy) and both started at tackle for a decade or more. It appears that Bulaga was as good a pick, you could tell immediately that he was going to be a starter. Without mini-camps Sherrod looked lost in his chances and then suffered the injury. He has all the measurables physically and his intelligent level is very high. They may have hit the jackpot again with he and Bulaga. We need to give Newhouse a chance, he did so much better than others thrown into the mix at LT (Barbre - Giacommini - T. J. Lang). My only concern is how much Wells will be missed, center is such a hard position to get a read on.

PackersRS's picture

Giants' David Diehl, a guard, played LT in their recent SB. He himself was a 5th rounder.

2011 - David Diehl - 5th round
2010 - Chad Clifton - 2nd round
2009 - Jermon Bushrod - 4th round
2008 - Max Starks - 3rd round
2007 - Diehl again
2006 - Tarik Glenn - 1st round
2005 - Marvel Smith - 2nd round
2004 - Matt Light - 2nd round
2003 - Light again
2002 - Roman Oben - 3rd round
2001 - Jonathan Ogden - 1st round

That's it. In this century, only 2 SB champions had 1st rounders at the LT position.

Moreso, only 1 of them, Ogden, 11 years ago, was considered elite.

It's just not that important to have an elite LT. Sure, if you have Allen Barbre in there, your chances are that much slimmer, but a decent player is more than enough, because of how offenses operate nowadays, and of how much an elite QB can compensate for a deficiency at the OL.

Rocky70's picture

I can't believe you used this analysis. Sure, only two LTs were drafted in the 1st round. But, 8 out the 11 were drafted in rounds 1, 2 or 3. ---- Newhouse was drafted in round 5. Ouch! --- Big difference between 1-3 & round five.

PackersRS's picture

The sample size of what's acceptable or not keeps getting bigger the weaker the argument gets... From 1st rounders to the first 3 rounds. Pretty soon the threshold will be drafted versus undrafted... Wait a minute...

As for the point, I take it's completely ignored, since once again you can't refute it. Would you be happy with any of those listed as the LT to protect Rodgers? Except Ogden, perhaps the best of all time, they're all just serviceable. Would Diehl suddenly be the solution? How about Bushrod?

It's just not that important to have an elite left tackle. If in the last 10 years not a single SB winner had a great LT, with some of them even being flat out bad players, why would it matter where he was drafted?

Rocky70's picture

Nice try but no prize for RS. Most true NFL pundits would say otherwise. I mean, being drafted in rounds 1-3 by an NFL team must mean something. (like maybe you can play a little football)---I wasn't drafted, were you?

My point does not change one iota. Better players are found in the early rounds of the draft. Your example proves my point completely. ---- Thanks. Your cooperation is appreciated.

PackersRS's picture

Wow. I mean, wow.

The article is about Bulaga being comfortable at right tackle, and both him and MM not seeing the need to move him to LT.

Every single post, including yours so far, has been about the state of LT, and whether it's more important or not than the other line positions.

Yet you somehow managed to take away that the point was about quality of players being drafted higher.

You obviously know enough about football to realize that, but somehow you don't.

I'm not sure if you did it knowingly or otherwise, but I know what measures I would take if I were in your shoes, because, to me, either way it's a condition, either mental or psychological.

But, if I'm right, you won't pay attention to what I'm saying, then it's futile to even direct any response towards you. So this is going to be my last. I sincerely hope you think about it.

My regards, and you win.

CSS's picture

Packers RS - It's as if 'Dunning-Kruger' and 'No True Scotsman' fallacy spawned an internet child.

PackersRS's picture

I really didn't want to enter the personal aspect but it gets tiresome.

When the only point is to win the argument at all costs you end up taking away nothing from the discussion, and though I can relate, as I do have an inclination to debate anything and everything, ultimately the goal is to learn more about football and about the Packers.

There's no discussion when the other side can't possibly bring anything of value, then why waste the time?

Rocky70's picture

" It’s just not that important to have an elite LT. " per RS.

You started this whole angle of discussion with this "silly" declaration. Your only evidence contradicts your "silly" statement completely. Don't blame me because your posts are not well thought out in advance. As usual, you're just p'oed because someone doesn't completely agree with you. Get over it. Accept that , just maybe, you don't know everything.

Oh, watch out. Here comes CSS to the rescue. ---- LOL.

ppabich's picture

Rocky, I don't think you understand the point here, and it's a good one. LT is not as important of a position as it used to be. Running games, especially the Packers, have fell off a cliff the past few years so the need for a road grading LT is marginalized. Shotgun has become more prevelant in the NFL these days, especially for the Packers, and that means that the "blindside" is diminished. If a QB can sit in shotgun he can see the rush from the left, rather than having a blindside while dropping back from center.

RS's post shows me one thing, other than Light and Ogdon, not a single one of those players is any good AT ALL!!!!! Dhiel was one of the worst Tackles in the entire NFL last year. Clifton was serviceable for the Packers. Bushrod sucks. Starks, Glenn, and Smith? They aren't good either.

It all gets back to the discussion at hand. Knowing that having a good LT is not a necessity for winning a Super Bowl and knowing that the team went 15-1 without a good LT, it's clear that keeping Bulaga on the right is best for the team. And using what we have at LT with the hope of some improvement is the way to go.

We'll be fine next season.

(Oh yeah, once all rookies get into camp where they have been drafted become irrelevant. The best players play, period. If Newhouse is better than Sharrod, it doesn't matter that Newhouse was a 5th rounder and Sharrod was a first.)

Rocky70's picture


You have absolutely no idea if GB will 'fine at LT' next season SO why even say it !!

A little strange that if LT is no longer important, then why are LTs paid higher than all offensive line positions & higher on most teams than all offensive positions except QB. You should e-mail all 32 teams to let them know that their Left Tackles are being paid too much. ---- Your theory is tainted. Try more research.

Cole O's picture

Rocky, you should try to not be as condescending, some people might not find you to be a total d-bag.

Anyways, yes players drafted in the early rounds are more talented as a whole compared to players drafter in the later rounds. Everyone knows this, no one is arguing against this.

All RS is arguing is that having an elite LT is not needed to be a championship team. And the fact that LT is a high payed position is beside the point(I believe on average they are the 2nd or 3rd highest payed position in the NFL). Maybe the LT position is over valued in the NFL, maybe not.

Oppy's picture

Chad Clifton is seriously under-rated and might be just a nose behind Odgen in terms of production. Cliffy was as reliable as they come... so long as his body held out.

All said and done, I still think LT is the second most important position on offense. That being said, I think us fans get way too caught up in having "Elite" players at certain positions.

Yes, you'd always like to have the best of the best playing at all 22 starting positions. The reality is you can do fine with sound, fundamental players if you don't have that elite personnel. The difference in talent between the top 10% of players in the NFL and the bottom 10% of players in the NFL is not as great as you might think. That middle 80% is pretty darn interchangable.

Rocky70's picture

Agree with pretty much everything you've posted.

However, picture the Packers without AR for too many games in season 2012. This isn't about the development of a LT who happens to be a 5th rounder. This is about how can the Packers best protect the NFL's best player. I have no doubt that TT/MM will pull out all the stops if Newhouse cannot improve on his 2011 performance. Until GB's "D" proves that it has improved over 2011, GB is all about their QB. If AR goes down, the season may very well be a lost cause.

PackersRS's picture

Clifton at his apex was a great player, no doubt (not like Ogdne, though, too lacking in the run game), but he was 35 when we won it all. Truth, he did play tremenduously that last stretch of games, but doesn't change the fact that he was a 35 year old player on his last legs.

I can't agree with it being the second most important position exactly because of the facts I showed. That thesis is not translating on the field.

The two characteristics that all those SB teams had was an elite, franchise QB and a great defense. Even the Colts, for that stretch, with Bob Sanders, they were a great defense.

Nononsense's picture

I don't claim to be a OL guru or anything but when I watch Newhouse I see his feet and their quicness as being his biggest asset. His biggest weakness IMO is his punch at the point of contact in pass pro and he needs to get more depth with his initial kick step. His feet are very nimble, he just needs to speed up his pass set and he can do that with a better first step.

Oppy's picture

Newhouse is somewhat revered for his nimble feet, his upper body strength was his weakness entering the league.

More than one scout considered Newhouse a sleeper pick, a tremendous value in the 5th, and one scout actually declared him the "steal of the draft". I don't know that he's going to be a multiple pro bowl tackle, but he's probably a somewhat closer in terms of talent and potential to sherrod and bulaga than most fans give him credit for.

PackersRS's picture

I've seen him getting beat mostly on the edge, not being quick enough and automatically blamed his feet. You're probably right. It may not be the feet per se but just proper technique.

cpheph1's picture

I'd like to see Bulaga stay @RT and I think his quote says it all...he'll do what they need him to do. He's definitely a keeper! I think they'll be fine on the left side & will provide extra protection as needed.

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