Daily Mailbag: The insanity of short arms

Thank you, thank you, Mallory of St. Paul, for providing me the opportunity to address the most ridiculous thing I heard or read during the NFL draft. Take it away, Mallory:

I've heard a lot of various experts and analysts project that Green Bay's Bryan Bulaga will struggle to adapt to left tackle in the NFL due to short arms. But, checking combine numbers, his arms (33 1/4") were longer than NFL left tackles Joe Thomas (32 1/2") and Jake Long (32 7/8").

Both of these guys are able to play left tackle effectively in the NFL regardless of their arm length, so why are people making such a big deal about this? Is there really a huge correlation between "arm length" and being effective as a left tackle in the NFL? Is Bulaga being unfairly criticized because he attended the same school and played the same position as notorious NFL bust Robert Gallery (32 1/4" arms)?

Yes, Mallory. This is draft analysis gone mad. Bonkers. Completely berserk. And this time, I'm not being sarcastic. Anyone who is worried about Bryan Bulaga because his arms are 2 3/4 inches shorter than the NFL ideal will have their Black and Blue blog membership cards rescinded. Go away. We don't want you anymore.

(OK, maybe that last sentiment is a slight exaggeration.)

I have no idea if Bulaga will flop or one day enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But I guarantee that if he flops, it won't be because his arms are too short. What do you people think? That Julius Peppers is just going to put his hand on Bulaga's head, sit there and laugh while Bulaga flails away? Come on.

I better take in some oxygen here. ....

There. That's better.

There's no doubt that in a vacuum, long arms beat the alternative when it comes to offensive tackles. If they could all have Inspector Gadget's tools, they would. The further you can reach, the better. Wingspan no doubt helps when you're protecting an open edge. But ask any offensive line coach about the ideal skills of a left tackle, and most of them will tell you that footwork is more important.

You block with your feet as much as with your hands. Getting yourself into proper position between the pass-rusher and the quarterback is most critical. If you're lunging at a pass-rusher, it doesn't matter whether you have 70-inch hoses attached to your shoulder. You're going to get beat.

On that topic, here's what Scouts Inc. had to say about Bulaga:

Gets set quickly, locks out arms and can ride explosive edge rushers past the pocket. Shows excellent body control and footwork when forced to redirect.

Credit Bulaga for having a sense of humor on the issue. He recently told the Des Moines Register: "I never really got myself in a position where I thought, 'Gosh, I wish my arms were longer.'"

I'm sure you could find some NFL scouts who question Bulaga's long-term viability. There is rarely consensus on any NFL draft prospect. But arm length? FAIL. Go back and find me something that matters.