When David Bakhtiari was taken by the Packers in the 4th round of the 2013 draft, it was met with little fanfare. He just looked like Kal Drogo’s cousin with a sillier name. If anything, people expected him to move to guard because that’s what Ted does with 4th round tackles.
Then Bulaga snapped his ACL right in front of me at Family Night and this rookie, with his bizarro-world-CM3 hair, stepped in.
Game 1: Please don’t get Rodgers killed
Game 2: Please don’t get Rodgers killed
Game 3: He’s better than Marshall Newhouse
Game 4: He’s not even terrible
Game 5: Heck he’s not even bad
Game 16: Bulaga might not get his job back
He went on to to start 46 games in a row, mostly going unnoticed because he was an offensive lineman doing a great job. Then when he missed a few games, it became clear how important he was as Don Barclay, JC Tretter, and even Josh Sitton took turns trying and failing to fill his enormous shoes.
Over the years, his offseason workout tweets have provided a documented timeline on how he has transformed his body from third day pick projected to move to guard to the body of a dominant left tackle. His technique maturity is clear on film from year to year – hand placement, kick step, knee bend, hip angle, it’s all come a long way. He got by with a lot of effort, hustle, and grit his rookie year, and dedicated himself to his craft thereafter. He has worked extremely hard to get where he is at and now makes it look effortless (but it’s definitely not). He is a true self-made man.
His tenacity towards development is rare even at the NFL level.
We can appreciate him for all the work he has done to develop. We can appreciate him for all he’s done for the team.
What I find really appreciatable, though, is that he was the 9th tackle taken in the 2013 draft and he has become the best pass blocker in the NFL, playing at the toughest position on the line. In 2016, he allowed a grand total of 4 combined sacks and hits. Four. Playing left tackle and going up against the most elite rushers in the league every week, every down, he let one of them touch 12 about once a month.
The tackles drafted before him were Eric Fischer, Like Joeckel, Lane Johnson, DJ Fluker, Justin Pugh (all of those guys were top 20 picks), Menelik Watson, Terron Armstead, and Dallas Thomas.
Most of those guys couldn’t handle the blind side. Half of them don’t even play tackle anymore. Fluker got cut before his rookie deal was up.
The following year, the Rams took Greg Robinson number 2 overall. In 2016, Pro Football Focus ranked him 71 out of 78 qualified tackles. There’s 32 teams, each starting two tackles.
That makes him a backup quality player.
As a number 2 overall pick.
And here we have Bak.
Taken number 109 overall.
The best pass blocker in the NFL.
Protecting the best passer in the NFL.
Let’s just appreciate that for a while.