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Jacksonville Jaguar Tyson Alualu: Wait and See

miller-postAs the Jacksonville Jaguars’ No. 10 selection was announced on Thursday night, I was hosting a special Inside the Game Draft Show on radio. First of all, seeing the name Tyson Alualu on the television screen is not exactly a broadcaster’s dream. A dream would be more in the ballpark of Tim Tebow – name-wise. Fortunately, I was in the grouping of maybe 99.9 percent of people in Jacksonville that had heard Tyson Alualu’s name prior to Thursday.

With a sturdy 6-foot-3 frame holding nearly 300 pounds and Troy Polamalu-esque hair, the 22-year-old Alualu, a former defensive tackle at California, is expected to solidify the defensive line next to second-year player Terrance Knighton. I can tell you right now that it would be general manager Gene Smith’s and head coach Jack Del Rio’s dream if Alualu and Knighton could become the new John Henderson-Marcus Stroud tandem.

Over the last few days, a major issue has been trying to sell Jaguar fans on the idea of drafting the 22-year-old Alualu so high – many draft experts had him being selected late in the first round or somewGYI0050747324.jpghere in the second round. Del Rio, giving his feelings on how to sell the fans on Alualu, said, “I think the biggest thing that we’re doing is making sound, solid football decisions based on what we evaluate on tape, what we evaluate through the process. I think we have to trust our work, and then people have to trust the people doing the work. In the end, I think all you can do is say last year there were questions, and the questions that were asked about certain guys, they ended up panning out pretty good. I think for us we’ve got to trust the work that we do; we do a lot of work. And, then let the young man get here and compete and I think he’ll show you the things that we saw.”

Del Rio made reference to the 2009 draft class, which included starters Knighton, Derek Cox, Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton – 60 combined starts between the four. Last year, beginning that draft with two consecutive offensive tackle selections left many Jaguar fans scratching their noggins. Not to mention, it was followed by a third-round pick (acquired via trade for a 2010 second-round choice) used on Cox, a small school product out of William & Mary. For two straight drafts, we have witnessed Smith not making picks based on how much Jaguar fans would gush about them.

On Thursday night, Smith clearly acknowledged, “Well again, I’m not trying to win a popularity contest. I’m trying to win a Super Bowl, and I feel like he’s [Alualu] someone that can help us do that. There are certainly a lot of other players that could do that as well, but from my standpoint maybe it’s the fact he’s out on the west coast, maybe it’s the fact that he played a 3-4 scheme as an end, you’ve got to go back to 2008 to really see him as a three-technique, and in our front he should fit well at the three-technique position. But, he’s played every position on the defensive line. This guy has got 17 sacks in college as a defensive lineman. He had a sack at the Senior Bowl [on Tim Tebow]. The guy has a tremendous motor. I can’t say enough positives about him. Again, I’m just happy he’s a Jaguar.”

Jaguar fans were not the only people a tad surprised by Alualu’s selection at No. 10. When asked if Alualu, who is married and has two children, was surprised at going so high, he stated, “I was real surprised. It came as a shock to so many people here [his church] and to myself. All I can say is it was all God’s plan. I’m definitely blessed but excited to be a part of the Jaguars family. Just to be picked 10th overall, I’m blessed.”

At this point, it is a wait-and-see approach. I disagree with those who say even if Alualu is the next Albert Haynesworth that he will still be a bust. At the very least, it has NFL fans talking about the Jacksonville Jaguars. But, the one quote I take away from Thursday night was from Gene Smith – “My goal is to improve the roster acquiring the best talent with the right kind of character and competitiveness that it takes to win at the highest level.” If Smith can accomplish that, drafting Alualu at No. 10 would be viewed as one of those steps in the right direction.

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Richard Miller is a national broadcaster for Jacksonville Jaguars’ home games on Sporting News Radio.   Additionally, he can be heard on ABC 1320 WBOB in Jacksonville at 5:45 p.m. on Wednesdays with The Jacksonville Observer Radio Show. Richard also hosts Inside the Game every Saturday from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. on WBOB.

Currently, Richard is writing David Lamm’s biography entitled Lamm at Large: The David Lamm Story, which will be available in 2010.

Follow Richard’s daily blog on The Jacksonville Observer.

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