Two players had slipped to the Packers’ 23rd draft slot, one a moderate surprise and the other a relative shocker due to character concerns. Each were clearly the top players available according to most draft pundits, and each could bring a different level of help to the Green Bay offense. Ten years later, one’s impact in a green and gold uniform has been witnessed, but the other’s fit as a Packer remains a what-could-have-been.
Green Bay ultimately chose Iowa tackle Bryan Bulaga that day, a player who has had NFL longevity despite some injury setbacks. Over 10 years as a pro and nine years as a starter, Bulaga has made 111 starts in 115 games played and quickly settled in as the team’s right tackle after replacing a retired Mark Tauscher in 2010. Bulaga has consistently been a good-to-great pass blocker throughout his NFL career and at least an above average run blocker. Though health has been a factor from year to year, Bulaga has routinely powered through several injuries and can be counted on as a positive teammate. Stability at the tackle position is something every team searches for and Bulaga has been worth every bit of his first round label as a professional despite never being recognized as an All-Pro or Pro Bowl player.
However, what if the Packers had selected Dez Bryant instead?
Perhaps Bryant would not have made the same impact for Green Bay as he did in Dallas when he was drafted by the Cowboys one pick later. The Packers possessed a long-time veteran in Donald Driver, as well as a trio of other receivers beginning to enter their prime in Greg Jennings, James Jones, and Jordy Nelson. Bryant’s addition to the team may have prevented a few of those younger wideouts from developing as they did, and Green Bay probably would not have added Randall Cobb a year later. Bryant’s rather brash personality also may not have been a good fit in Green Bay, causing more distractions than positives. That was one part of his overall package as a player that ended his career far more abruptly than imagined.
At the same time, Bryant’s talent and level of play over his nine years in the league was undeniable at times. His impact was quick and Bryant ascended to stardom within his first three seasons, eclipsing 90 receptions and 1,000 yards in his third year. Bryant would go on to reach the Pro Bowl three times between 2013 to 2016 and earnedl All-Pro honors in 2014.
Bryant formed a strong connection with quarterback Tony Romo and almost assuredly would have been a significant weapon for Aaron Rodgers in providing the team with a dynamic downfield threat. Bulaga’s immediate help along the offensive line as a rookie aided the team in its run to the Super Bowl in 2010, but Bryant’s ability may have been the missing offensive piece to put the team over the top and reach future Super Bowls. The image of Bryant and Nelson lined up on the outside with a combination of Driver and Jennings in the slot is tantalizing. Furthermore, the culture of the Packers organization may have helped alleviate the character red flags that clouded Bryant’s career.
Strangely enough, one of Bryant’s most infamous moments came against Green Bay at Lambeau Field in the 2014 NFC Divisional Round of the playoffs, and his place in Packers lore is cemented by the catch-no catch controversy. But had the cards been played differently, could Bryant have become one of Green Bay’s most remembered pass catchers of the 2000s?
Ten years later, that notion remains purely hypothetical, but the Packers must certainly still be happy with their actual selection of Bulaga and his own high-caliber level of performance. Still, it is hard not to wonder which player would have ultimately made the most difference for Green Bay.
Which player would have been the better pick for Green Bay in the 2010 NFL Draft?
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