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Rob Reischel reported that GM Ted Thompson "was trying not to even look" as the player he coveted, LT Bryan Bulaga, slipped out of the top 10 and to the Green Bay Packers at pick No. 23 overall. Unless injury strikes incumbent LT Chad Clifton or RT Mark Tauscher, the selection of Bulaga is unlikely to become a game changing move in 2010. But it could be in the near future.
Back to Thompson and his assessment. Despite his belief that Bulaga is the "real deal", he has made some mistakes in the first round. Maybe it's karmic payback for having QB Aaron Rodgers fall to them in 2005. While LB A.J. Hawk is not a bust, he's never played like a top 5 talent either. DT Justin Harrell is an ongoing disappointment. DE B.J. Raji is not bad, but his rookie season was far from dominant. Just something to keep in mind.
Assuming Bulaga is indeed the left tackle of the future, and he'll have a long career similar to Clifton, then he'll be a great pick. He doesn't have to dominant and wind up in the Pro Bowl immediately, like former Badger LT Joe Thomas, for his selection to become a success. If he can become as good as Clifton then he could change how the Packers view the draft over the next 10 years.
When LT Ken Ruettgers retired after 1996, the Packers began a frustrating search for a new left tackle. They drafted LT John Michels in 1996, then LT Ross Verba in 1997, with 1st round picks, while choosing LG Mike Wahle in 2nd round of the 1998 supplemental draft originally as a left tackle prospect. After using a high draft choice in 3 consecutive seasons, Clifton brought stability to a troublesome position in 2000, and it changed how they approached the draft. Between 2002 and 2005 they didn't select an offensive lineman higher than the 6th round.
Now the left tackle position is secured for several years. Instead of constantly searching for the next starting left tackle they can pursue other positions, and hopefully in next April's draft they can finally draft the pass rushing LB they really need too.