Brian Bulaga, a Midwest kid who packs a punch as an offensive lineman from a tough, well coached program at the University of Iowa, is the Green Bay Packers number one draft choice. Bulaga was selected 23rd overall by General Manager Ted Thompson tonight who called this a "real value" pick who should instantly upgrade the overall depth and quality of the team's offensive line. And let's face it, after Aaron Rodgers got sacked 56 times behind a line with aging tackles in Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher, the time for new, quality blood is now. Bulaga is 6-5 and 312 pounds, a first team All Big Ten performer and second team AP All American who overcame a strange thyroid viral infection during his final season with the Hawkeyes. He left Iowa after his junior year to enter the draft and just turned 21. He grew up in Crystal Lake, Illinois, a northwest suburb of Chicago and attended Marian Central Catholic High School where he was a Parade All-American as a prep. He enjoys golf, movies and video games but in a conference call with Green Bay media after his selection, said he wants to become a solid contributor to an organization and is thrilled it was the Packers who took him. Bulaga said he grew up a Bears fan but loves the entire NFC North Division. Thompson said the Packers have a player from a solid program and we've had good luck with Iowa players like Aaron Kampman, Abdul Hodge and Ross Verba, the last offensive tackle taken with the first round choice back in 1997. He will likely start working behind Clifton at the left tackle position, the spot he played at Iowa. The pick appears solid on so many fronts, an upstanding, dedicated athlete playing a position the Packers need for the future.
The first, stand alone, prime time first round in NFL history had several other spicey stories. From Oklahoma Sooners going off the board on three of the first four picks including overall number one Sam Bradford to St. Louis, to the surprising choice by Jacksonville of defensive tackle Tyson Alualu of Cal at number 10, to former Packer director of football operations John Schneider selecting tackle Russell Okung at number 6 and safety Earl Thomas at number 14, two very nice choices. The Detroit Lions also made a splash, with Ndamukung Suh of Nebraska going second and then a late trade back into the first round with division rival Minnesota to get California running back Jahvid Best at number 30. The highly publicized journey of Tim Tebow ended with the Denver Broncos taking the Florida quarterback two picks after Green Bay at number 25.
The meat of the draft comes next, with two more rounds Friday night and the final 4 on Saturday. The Packers will be in the market for defensive help, a pass rushing outside linebacker and added depth for the secondary.