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Point/Counterpoint: Which team should draft Bulaga?

BY J.T. BUGOS | APRIL 22, 2010 7:30 AM

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Seattle Seahawks

Thursday will be a day Bryan Bulaga never forgets.

The NFL draft, which begins Thursday night, may bring good news to all 255 players selected, but for Bulaga, it’ll mean much more when he likely goes in the first round.

Looking up and down the draft board, a few teams have pressing needs along the offensive line.

With Oklahoma State offensive tackle Russell Okung likely going in the top five — possibly as high as third overall — the domino effect would put Bulaga in the five to 10 range.

At this point, it looks as though Oklahoma’s Trent Williams is going to Kansas City as the No. 5 pick.

Meanwhile, signs point to Buffalo selecting Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen ninth overall in an effort to boost ticket sales.

That’s why Bulaga will go to the Seattle Seahawks at No. 6, becoming the first drafted player under new head coach Pete Carroll. He wants to rejuvenate the Seahawk franchise, and what better way is there than drafting the heir apparent to current left tackle Walter Jones?

Jones, who will be Canton-bound one day, will leave a gaping hole when he decides to hang it up. Seattle won’t miss on offense by drafting the 6-5, 315-pound Bulaga.

The Crystal Lake, Ill., native has a lot of positive attributes. At Iowa, he’s gained fame for being a workhorse both on and off the field, indicative of his Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year honor in 2009.

If the Seahawks make the right selection, pretty soon Bulaga will be blocking for the likes of Matt Hasselbeck, Julius Jones, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. It’s only a matter of time before he trades in his Black and Gold and dons blue and green.

— by Matt Cozzi

Washington Redskins

Bryan Bulaga, the 2009 Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year, is a GM’s dream offensive tackle.

His 6-5, 314-pound frame gives him a distinct advantage in protecting any quarterback’s blind side, and he doesn’t stop playing until after the whistle blows.

Add in his presidential-esque poise and his proficiency to finish blocks, and Bulaga has elevated himself into a top draft pick Thursday night.

The top five picks in this year’s draft go as follows: St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins, and Kansas City Chiefs. All but the Buccaneers truly need an offensive tackle to anchor their line.

With Washington’s recent acquisition of Donovan McNabb, the Redskins’ needs along the line need to be addressed at once. They can’t afford to have McNabb running mad all season as Jason Campbell has since entering the league in 2005 (sacked 109 times as the Redskins quarterback — 43 of which came last season).

Washington needs a rookie who can step in right after the draft, take the job seriously, and keep his quarterback from being flattened.

The 21-year-old Hawkeye has tremendous upside and could easily be a Pro Bowl left tackle. He is a fantastic run blocker who gives up his body even when the running back is bouncing outside of the tackles.

His giant mold and ability to be coached makes him the kind of guy the Redskins need to revive a mediocre line.

The Redskins have Stephon Heyer as the current starter at left tackle and Artis Hicks on the right side. Heyer, at best is a backup in the NFL, and Hicks is a natural guard, so new coach Mike Shanahan will want to upgrade that position to get the Redskins out of the NFC East’s basement.

Bulaga is not only a “Mike Shanahan guy,” but he could be the first piece in restoring what once was one of the most polished offensive lines in the league. Shanahan needs to rebuild “The Hogs” (the nickname for the Redskin’s two-time Super Bowl winning offensive line) for Washington to be successful in the new decade.

If they take Bulaga with the fourth overall pick, Shanahan and company can begin the process immediately.

— by Jerry Scherwin Jr.

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