It's no secret that the offensive line of the Green Bay Packers struggled last season. For a while it appeared as though Aaron Rodgers was making a run at the title for most sacks in one season. Though the tide changed direction subtly last season, our offensive line was still many fans biggest concern for the 2010 season.
Enter big old' Bryan Bulaga (and sitting at 6-foor-5, 314 pounds, I literally mean huge). With tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher both entering their 11th season, last year's fourth-round pick TJ Lang and our new 23rd overall pick will certainly be immediate successor to these veteran starters. And who knows, with Tauscher's rickety knees and Clifton's bum ankle from last season, these youngins might even see some starting time this season.
"If [Bulaga] is a backup left tackle, he is one snap away from being our starting tackle anyway," Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "I think we are anxious to get our hands on him. Everything we hear about him is that this is a guy that wants to be good, wants to compete, wants to play, but we're certainly not going to take a cautious approach with him."
Though he may not have the same charming story as The Blindside, I can't help but feel a little extra love for this guy... probably because every time I read his name I start singing the baby beluga song.... Baby Beluga in the deep blue sea.... Babbbyyy Belluga... Baby Belluuuuga. Sorry, I digress.
The Packers second draft pick went to Purdue lineman Mike Neal (No. 56 overall). Though their defense was one of my favorite topics of conversation last year--because it kicked a%$ for the majority of the season--this pickup will certainly add dept to defensive coordinator Dom Capers' 3-4 defense.
And for all those jersey-chasing ladies in Green Bay, this guy appears to have to goods. The 6-foot-3, 294-pound Neal set several weightlifting records during his time at Purdue. He posted 31 reps (at 225 pounds) in the bench press at the combine and also benched 510 pounds prior to his senior season . . . quite the party trick.
General Manager Ted Thompson, who is notoriously infatuated with draft picks, traded up his fourth-round pick (No. 122 overall) to the Philadelphia Eagles in order to swap third-rounders and move up 15 spots to snag safety Morgan Burnett.
This early entry junior out of Georgia Tech can play like an extra linebacker in the box as well as cover the deep middle. And that versatility is a nice complement to his noteworthy ball skills: in just three seasons at Georgia Tech, he picked off 14 passes, two shy of the school's career record.
The Packers also picked up tight end Andrew Quarless from Penn State, offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse from Texas Christian, running back James Starks from Buffalo, and defensive end CJ Wilson from East Carolina.
All in all the Packer organization appears to be pleased with their decisions. I'm curious to hear how my comrades in the world of Packer-backing are judging the draft.
Only time will tell if these picks are enough to get us past the few road blocks (our offensive line problem, the depth of our bench, those pesky foes to the west) that are sure to make the 2011 season an interesting one.
Meantime, I'll just cross my fingers, hope for a good offseason, and keep on humming along... Babbyyy Beluga... laaa ti da.
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