Bryan Bulaga played a number of different positions while he attended Marian Central Catholic High School during the mid-2000s. Besides playing on the offensive line, he also dabbled at tight end, linebacker, and defensive end.
During his career at Marian, Bulaga finished with 261 tackles, 46 tackles-for-loss, 31 sacks, and a single interception on defense, and racking up 665 yards and 10 touchdowns on 35 receptions. He left high school as a four-star prospect and rated as the nation’s sixth-best offensive tackle. After being named a Second-Team All-American by USA Today, Bulaga committed to the University of Iowa over the likes of Nebraska, Oklahoma State, and Wisconsin.
Bulaga saw starts on the offensive line as a true freshman, which is quite the rare feat under head coach Kirk Ferentz. During the 2007 season, he played in six games with five starts, all at left guard, and earned Freshman All-Big Ten honors.
As a true sophomore, Bulaga won the starting left tackle job, beginning all 13 contests and earning All-Big Ten honor on the second team. As a junior, Bulaga missed a handful of games due to a thyroid condition. Even with that setback, he still started 10 games en route to being named the Big Ten’s Offensive Lineman of the Year and a Second-Team All-American.
As a rookie, Bulaga won the starting right tackle job following an injury to the incumbent starter. He ended up starting 12 games and played a role in helping Green Bay top the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl 45. Over the next four seasons, Bulaga started 12, 9 (torn ACL), 15, and 12 games respectively before playing all 16 games in 2017, the first time he achieved that feat in his career. Another torn ACL came Bulaga’s way after just five games of the 2017 season. He responded by starting 14 the following year, and then all 16 once again this past season.
The Chargers signed Bulaga earlier this offseason to a 3-year/$30 million contract that leaves the right tackle locked down for the next few seasons. The team also traded for right guard Trai Turner, securing the right side of the Bolts’ offensive and making it one of the best in all of football.
Years with team: 0
“Bryan Bulaga signed a 3 year, $30,000,000 contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, including a $10,000,000 signing bonus, $19,250,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $10,000,000. In 2020, Bulaga will earn a base salary of $1,500,000 and a signing bonus of $10,000,000, while carrying a cap hit of $4,833,333 and a dead cap value of $19,250,000.” - Spotrac.com
Bulaga played his college ball at the University of Iowa, which means he’s about as fundamentally-sound as it gets when it comes to the run game. Iowa has long been one of the best schools in producing offensive line talent, just behind powerhouses like Alabama, Stanford, Wisconsin, and Notre Dame.
While not the most-athletic or prototypical in shape, Bulaga gets the job done by sticking to his guns and relying on the skills he learned while playing under Kirk Ferentz. He’s tough at the point of attack, offers excellent functional strength, and has just enough quick twitch in his lower body to keep up with the likes of Khalil Mack, Danielle Hunter, and other top pass-rushers from the NFL North.
His veteran leadership and playoff experience will also go a long way in nurturing and mentoring a young group of offensive linemen.
Watch Elgton Jenkins. Recovers after getting beat and then effortlessly makes the switch on the stunt— Zach Kruse (@zachkruse2) November 12, 2019
Watch Bryan Bulaga. Runs 98 completely out of the play, opens up the extended play opportunity
Rodgers/Lazard do the rest pic.twitter.com/s2YSfGgU0n
Although it’s a testament to his talent that he’s going on his 11th year in the NFL, Bulaga’s been able to stick without being the picture of health. He’s only twice played all 16 games in a season, last year and 2016. In other words, he’s also played 16 games in a season as many times as he’s failed to reach 10 games in a given year (nine in 2012, five in 2017). For the next three seasons, the Bolts are hoping he’s finally kicked his habits of ending up on the sideline.
Odds of making the roster/What to expect in 2020?
Bulaga is the Chargers’ starting right tackle in 2020 barring an unfortunate and catastrophic injury. He’s the best tackle on the entire roster and it will be vital that he stays on the field as much as possible.