Jaguars pick Saint Louis alum Alualu 10th overall in NFL Draft Alualu's spiritual beliefs reflected on, off the field
Advertiser Staff and News Services
The Jacksonville Jaguars picked Saint Louis alum Tyson Alualu, a defensive end from the University of California, as the 10th overall pick in the first round of the NFL Draft today.
Alualu, who is a 6 feet 2 1/2 and 298 pounds, is just one of a handful of Hawaii products taken in first round, including Herman Wedemeyer, Russ Francis, Al Harris, Chris Naeole and Ashley Lelie.
"Everybody just went crazy when they announced my name," Alualu said. "For me, tears of joy, being able to live my dream ... playing in the NFL... and getting picked that high ... words can't express how I feel."
Alualu's pick as 10th overall was a surprise to many draft analysts who projected him to go as early as late in the first round.
"I've had a lot of questions about him at No. 10, and I completely understand it," Jacksonville general manager Gene Smith said in an Associated Press story. "I am not trying to win a popularity contest. I understand that people are going to have questions. I'm about winning a Super Bowl."
The Jaguars, coming off a 7-9 season in which they had a league-worst 14 sacks, believe Alualu could help get them there.
"I definitely want to come in and compete, whether it's another rookie or another vet," Alualu said. "I want to compete to get on that field and be a starter and contribute to the team anyway possible. I don't want to disappoint anybody. I'm definitely ready to come in and compete and try to earn that spot."
He will compete for the starting job two-time Pro Bowler John Henderson has occupied the last eight seasons. Smith indicated the Jaguars would entertain trade offers for Henderson, seemingly ready to part ways with him in exchange for more draft picks this weekend.
As a player he brings energy, determination, along with skill (4.87 speed in the 40, 24 repetitions of 225 and a 35 1/2 vertical jump). His time over 10 yards is 1.70 seconds, which was the fastest among the top interior defensive line prospects.
Alualu started 39 of 51 games at Cal and finished with 16 sacks and 190 tackles. He played defensive end as a senior, but Smith and coach Jack Del Rio envision him playing alongside second-year player Terrance Knighton for the foreseeable futureómaybe even giving Jacksonville the kind of tackle tandem that Henderson and Marcus Stroud did for years.
"The more work we did, the stronger we felt about him," Smith said.
The first round of the draft is being held tonight in New York City.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.