DALLAS -- As you watch Super Bowl XLV today check out Green Bay right tackle Bryan Bulaga. He is the Packers right tackle and will have a tough task in either Steelers outside linebacker, James Harrison or LaMarr Woodley.
He is also a rookie first-round pick.
When Mark Tauscher was lost for the season with a shoulder injury the Packers moved Bulaga in at right tackle after giving him time at left tackle and left guard. He ended up starting the final 12 games and has done a decent job.
So as you wonder about whether the Cowboys can find a rookie offensive lineman to come in and play, just think about Bulaga.
The last time the Cowboys had to start a rookie on their offensive line for the bulk of the season came in 2005 when sixth rounder Rob Petitti won the right tackle spot almost out of necessity. They love veterans, especially up front, but that could start to change – and frankly the thinking should change across the board with the Cowboys – in 2011.
The Cowboys have the ninth overall pick. Maybe there isn’t a top-flight tackle to take at No. 9 right now, but there appears to be at least three first-round tackles in the upcoming draft: Colorado’s Nate Solder, Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo and Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi.
Bulaga admitted there is an adjustment to make as a rookie but it was not so monumental that he needed a redshirt year.
“In college you’re going against players week in and week out that may not be as talented as the top guys,” Bulaga said. “Obviously in the conference not every team is stacked with the best players. That’s not how it is in the pros. Every week you’re going against the top pass rushers and now teams have two defensive ends that can do the same thing: get up the field and pressure the quarterback.
“It’s more adjusting to the scheme and how things are in your offense, the talk, the way you identify things. I know for me the challenge was picking up the lingo but once I got through the OTAs and studied it I was pretty comfortable. Then it’s the guys you’re going against. If you’re an offensive linemen getting picked in the NFL Draft then you’re a big, strong guy that has played good college football, but who you’re going against in the pros is a different story. You’re going against the best of the best every week. I think the challenge is more mentally really because the defenses are more complex. You’re asked to do a lot more things as an offensive lineman but it’s definitely possible.”’
Bulaga became the first first-round pick the Packers used on an offensive lineman since Ross Verba in 1997.
For the Cowboys you have to go back to 1981 to find an offensive lineman they took in the first round (Howard Richards, No. 26 overall).