Jaguars move former 1st-rounder Alualu to DE
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)
The Jaguars have shifted the former first-round draft pick from defensive tackle to defensive end, getting the 6-foot-3, 295-pound Hawaiian in a run-stopping role while allowing him to work in space.
''We feel it's a good fit,'' coach Gus Bradley said Wednesday. ''He's all in favor of it, feels like it's a better fit for him.''
Alualu was the 10th overall pick in the 2010 draft, a selection widely considered a reach. It didn't help that Alualu injured his right knee in the preseason of his rookie year. Instead of getting surgery, he played two years with nagging pain and occasional swelling.
Alualu finally had his knee cleaned out last offseason, but he still didn't feel 100 percent last fall. Nonetheless, he started all 16 games for the third consecutive season and finished with a career-high 82 tackles.
Now, though, Alualu's knee feels the best it has since college and could allow him to flourish in his new role off the edge.
''I tell you what, it's been the best it's felt for the offseason,'' Alualu said. ''It's real close to 100 percent.''
And playing outside could help get it there.
''Less wear and tear while I'm playing outside,'' he added. ''That helps out a lot.''
Despite Jacksonville's pass-rush problems - the franchise has averaged 24 sacks over the last five seasons - general manager Dave Caldwell and Bradley did little to upgrade the defensive line.
They signed defensive tackles Roy Miller and Sen'Derrick Marks in free agency, finding replacements for Terrance Knighton and C.J. Mosley. But they seem content to give Jason Babin, Jeremy Mincey, Andre Branch, Austen Lane and Alualu a chance to get the pass rush turned around.
Then again, the Jaguars claimed defensive end Brandon Deaderick off waivers from New England on Tuesday, and previously signed tryout ends Pannel Egboh and J.D. Griggs in an effort to increase competition at the position.
''I knew having a new head coach and a new system, I would have to come out and compete,'' Alualu said. ''They just said they're going to watch us play and put us in positions that we should succeed. This is part of the adjustment, and I'm liking it so far.''
The position is nothing new for Alualu, who played defensive end in a 3-4 scheme at California.
''I think it works to my strengths: being a bigger body, being able to hold my own against an offensive tackle, being able to hold double teams versus a tight end and just being able to stop the run when I'm out there lined up against defensive end,'' Alualu said. ''I was a D-end in college in the 3-4 scheme, so it's very similar to that.
''But being out of it a couple of years, I'm trying to get it back. The three practices that I've had the opportunity to work at it, I'm loving it and I think I can only get better from here.''
Alualu has 240 tackles and 9 1/2 sacks in three seasons, failing to meet the expectations that come with being a top-10 pick, especially with a fan base that grew accustomed to seeing former NFL tackles John Henderson and Marcus Stroud dominate the middle of the line for years.
Maybe Alualu will find more success outside.
''We just felt like in the D-line he had the most ability to play multiple positions,'' Bradley said. ''He's shown that. We evaluated him. We did that with everybody. Here's the group that we have: How can we place them and have the best possible chance to succeed with them in the system?''