It's about wins, not monkey business
By Ferd Lewis
The Monkeys Uncle Tavern in Jacksonville, Fla., it turns out, was an appropriate venue for a lot of Jaguars' fans to hold their NFL Draft parties yesterday.
Because there was certainly an element of "Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle" surprise to the team's first-round selection of former Saint Louis School defensive lineman Tyson Alualu.
"The fans here were, well, pretty shocked," said Ashley Chadwell, a manager of the sports bar. "It was, like, 'who's that?' "
Jaguars fans wanted iconic ex-Florida quarterback Tim Tebow with the 10th pick (he went to Denver with the 25th). What they got was the man who sacked and stripped Tebow of the ball in a Senior Bowl YouTube moment.
They sought, in the words of a Jaguars observer, "a wow!" name-brand pick. What they got was more of what they needed, a "pow!" relentless pash rusher to terrorize quarterbacks.
This is a franchise that plays to empty seats and TV blackouts. There were two ways of addressing that with the first pick: Grab a quick headliner or select someone to help win games. The Jags thought Alualu gave them the best chance to do the latter.
How quick is Alualu? Well, beyond his 1.70 time in the 10-yard dash, which is said to rank first among the premier interior defensive line prospects this year, he raced up the draft board and became the second-highest pick of Hawai'i products in draft history. Only Saint Louis' Herman Wedemeyer (1947) and Leilehua's Al Harris (1979), both No. 9 choices, went higher.
Before the Senior Bowl most projections had Alualu in fourth-round range. After taking down Tebow, Alualu shot up to a solid second-round choice with first-round possibilities.
If you saw the consistency with which the 6-foot-3, 298-pound Alualu performed the last three seasons as a starter at California, it probably shouldn't have been a surprise. He was both durable (starting 40 games) and devastating.
Still, few saw this one coming in Jacksonville, at least. The Florida Times-Union polled eight draft analysts and got six names. Predictions ranged from Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen and Clemson running back C.J. Spiller to South Florida defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
If Alualu makes a name for himself with the Jags, it won't be long before they are toasting the choice at the Monkeys Uncle.