Free Agent Profile: Bryan Bulaga

Bryan Bulaga rates as one of the more attractive offensive linemen in the 2015 free agency and Chris Phillips gives you his profile.

| 2 years ago
2015-FA-profile-feat-bulaga

Free Agent Profile: Bryan Bulaga


2015-FA-profile-feat-bulagaThe 2014 season had an impressive group of free agents at the offensive tackle position, with Branden Albert, Eugene Monroe and Jared Veldheer all available. The 2015 free agent tackle class is going to be a significant step down for teams in need of tackle help, and with King Dunlap re-signing with the Chargers and Michael Roos retiring, the options became even more limited. The Cowboys’ Doug Free and Jeremy Parnell as well as former Texan Derek Newton should draw some interest, but, by far, the most intriguing option is the Packers’ Bryan Bulaga.

Bulaga was a first round pick for Green Bay back in 2010 out of the University of Iowa. His career got off to a rocky start and he finished his rookie season with a -17.5 overall grade. He allowed a league high 12 sacks and his 93.3 Pass Blocking Efficiency rating ranked 42nd out of all tackles. Despite having a rough rookie season he did show flashes of his potential having a few strong games during the season and during the Packers’ Super Bowl run, grading at +6.3 combined for the Divisional playoff and Conference championship games.

2011 was Bulaga’s best all-around season as a pro. He finished with a +18.9 overall grade for the regular season, a mark that ranked seventh overall. He was one of six tackles to grade at +7.0 or better in both run and pass blocking. His 21 total pressures allowed was tied for the third-lowest mark out of all tackles and his one sack allowed ranked second behind only Duane Brown who didn’t allow a sack all year. Bulaga’s 96.1 Pass Blocking Efficiency rating came in at eighth overall. With the way he ended his rookie campaign and the production in his sophomore season he looked like an All-Pro in the making.

Unfortunately, Bulaga wasn’t able to carry any momentum from 2011 into the 2012 season. He had a rough start grading at -9.6 over the first five weeks of that season. While he was able to turn his season around grading at +5.3 over the next four games, he suffered a season-ending hip injury in Week 9, ending any momentum he had built up. The Packers had big plans for Bulaga prior to the 2013 season, with plans to start him at left tackle, but his bad luck continued as he suffered a torn ACL just before the preseason.

This past season was easily the most important for Bulaga’s career. Coming off of consecutive season-ending injuries, he needed to prove that he could stay on the field and perform up to his peak 2011 level. To tell the story of his season you need to break it into two halves. Over the first half Bulaga graded at -0.7 overall, but after the bye in Week 9 he found his groove and turned into the Pro Bowl level talent he was prior to his injuries. The graphic below shows his dramatic uptick in performance after the Packers’ bye week.

bulaga graph

From Weeks 10-17 his +12.6 grade ranked ninth out of all tackles and topped all right tackles. His 97.1 Pass Blocking Efficiency rating over that time ranked sixth overall. This second-half run was exactly the finish he needed to propel him towards free agency.

Bryan Bulaga struggled as a rookie and then turned into a Pro-Bowl level tackle in 2011. He then suffered two lost seasons via injury before finally hitting his groove again the second half of last season.

If Bulaga can continue to stay healthy he has the ability to be a Top 10-15 tackle, and perhaps even more. He is also one of the few who plays well both in the run game and in pass protection. Green Bay will make a strong push to retain his services, but if he does hit the open market interest will be strong, especially with the lack of other options at tackle. It will be interesting to see what salary range he will command with the combination of his tough injury history and potential, being just 25 years of age.

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  • GorillaNation

    Packers have shown great loyalty and class… this guy, they took him instead of 2 guys they wanted (Jerry Hughes & Dez Bryant) in that 2010 Draft, and he’s missed almost all of 2 seasons. That sucked for Bulaga, but he still got paid. It hurt the Packers a lot more than it hurt Bulaga.
    BB better re-sign with the Packers even it it’s a bit of a discount. Now if he can get a million or more with another team, I understand that business part. But if it’s close, he owes it to the team who drafted him, and suffered with him on IR for 2 years, to stay with them. He won a ring.

    • kyle

      Lol, I can’t express to you enough how stupid this comment is. If the Packers liked Dez and Jerry more than Bulaga then they would’ve taken one of them. He doesn’t owe the packers anything.

      • GorillaNation

        False.
        Did Cobb owe the Packers anything? He felt he did. So might Bulaga.

        And the Packers needed a new OT at the time of that 2010 Draft as both starters were very old in Tauscher & Clifton.

        Bulaga was projected to go in the top 20, 15 even.
        So was Dez.

        Had they, then Jerry Hughes was going to be the pick and a great bookend at OLB with Clay who was just taken one year earlier.

        When both Bulaga & Bryant made it to the Packers pick, they went with the “need” at OT. Also was the safer off-field pick.

        • eYeDEF

          Don’t really see the point of your anecdote when all that shows is that the Packers made the choice they felt was best for their self interest. Like you said, they took the less risky pick and the player whose position filled a greater team need. They weren’t motivated because of their love for Bulaga the person, they were interested in the service and unique labor that someone of his rare talents could potentially provide for their team. Why does that mean Bulaga owes the Packers anything for selecting him? If the Packers hadn’t selected him another team gladly would have. Some guys like Cobb like where they’re at and don’t mind turning down more money from other teams in order to continue what they feel has been a good situation for them. Most guys are going to go the way of Revis, Maxwell, and Julius Thomas though and commit their talents to the highest bidder. If Bulaga feels the Packers have been loyal and committed to him and is the type to feel a reciprocal obligation, he’ll re-sign for less. If not, he’s under no obligation to do so and is free to pursue the employer that pays him the most.

  • D-Bomb

    I grew up with Brian playing on teams with him, and against him, in little league and travel baseball. We were team mates in pee-wee football and we both trained together at times at the same facility in high school. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see Bulaga become a Chicago Bear but I’m not sure why he’d ever want to leave Green Bay for the train wreck that is the Bears.

    • eYeDEF

      Yeah that’s a good question, hard to see why any in demand free agent who won’t lack for his choice of suitors would choose to sign with such a sorry team unless he has family in Chicago and feels his quality of life would be much better served living close to them. I’ve seen it happen with losing franchises where they unexpectedly luck into enjoying the services of a player wanting to be close to his family, but it’s the rare exception to the rule. Too bad you didn’t keep in touch so you can’t lobby him to play for the home team.

  • CooCoo Cachoo

    Why do you neglect to mention he hasn’t allowed a sack in over TWO years.

    That’s pretty amazing!