Sixth in a series analyzing potential draft picks for the Raiders, who select No. 8 in the first round in nine days:
Position: Offensive tackle
Height, weight: 6-6, 314 pounds
Why it’s Bulaga: Perfect for a team in need of an instant starter, Bulaga may have more polish than any tackle in the draft. He’s tough, can get to the second level in zone concepts and extremely smart. Development has shown a nice curve _ the All-Big Ten freshman team, second-team All-Big Ten as a sophomore and Big Ten Lineman of the Year (as well as All-Big Ten) as a junior before opting for the draft. Much less anxiety in taking Bulaga as opposed to Anthony Davis (Rutgers) and Bruce Campbell (Maryland), whose production and/or interest has waned but have a bigger upside. In final college game, Bulaga effectively controlled Georgia Tech’s Derrick Morgan, who will be a first-round pick at defensive end.
Why it’s not Bulaga: Seems strange to look at the Raiders’ best offensive lineman as a potential reason not to take Bulaga, but in 2004, Robert Gallery was the No. 2 overall pick as an offensive tackle prospect analysts were likening to Jonathan Ogden and Tony Boselli. Gallery wasn’t helped by switching positions early on (left guard to right tackle to left tackle) as well as changing line coaches and philosophies, but the bottom line is he became a guard instead of a tackle. The Raiders need tackles more than they need guards, and don’t want one at No. 8. In some circles, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has the same sort of rep Cal’s Jeff Tedford does with quarterbacks (pre-Aaron Rodgers) _ terrific college players who aren’t necessarily great pros. Bulaga’s arms measure 33 inches _ five inches less than top prospect Russell Okung. Gallery’s struggles at tackle were later attributed to arms being too short for the position. Bulaga missed three games with a thyroid condition but finished strong.
Quotable: “Coach (Kirk) Ferentz really breeds his guys to be tough, physical and smart. I think those are three words that are up in our offensive line room. Anytime you’ve got a guy like that, you’re going to get a good offensive lineman.”
NOTE: I’ll be away from the computer until late this afternoon but hope get the NFL schedule posted or other breaking news posted if it happens in my absence. If not, I’m sure someone out there will post it in the comments, anyway . . .