There has been loads and loads of scrutiny of the Jacksonville Jaguars first round pick Tyson Alualu. We've already weighed in our initial reactions and Collin wrote a nice piece about how much it bolsters a potentially very good defensive line. It does seem however, that Gene Smith has giant cajones and plans to stick to HISboard no matter what anyone else says. He had some interesting thoughts that he told to SI.com's Peter King, and he made his feelings clear.
It's a double edged sword, but an admirable strategy.
"This is not a popularity contest,'' Smith told Peter King of SI.com. "I don't give a damn about perception. I care about picking the right player for our team. My attitude is, 'You can outsmart people some of the time, but you can outwork them all of the time.' If you can't trust your ability to judge players after all the work you put in on them, you shouldn't be in this business.''
A lot of scrutiny has come from the local Jacksonville media, namely really just a single radio station which I won't mention, but everyone knows which one. There is an increasing backlash from not selecting local super hero Tim Tebow, combined with selecting a player tha undoubtedly most fans have never heard of. There are calls of "Tyson Who-Who" and "Tyson Lulululu", etc. from some bent out of shape fans, but fans need to realize that teams draft for one reason and one reason only: To win football games.
I think it's been made pretty clear Gene Smith is not going to cater to the fans. Some local media will focus on that fact and attack it, but I applaud it. Gene Smith caters to the fans by trying to build the best possible football team, not drafting local collegiate golden boys.
"You can call this a reach,'' Smith told King, "but the more work we did on him, the more we saw an excellent player with high character and excellent competitiveness who'd played every spot on the defensive line. I watched every game he played the last two years. The more I watched, the more I became convinced this was an excellent player for what we do. He had 17 sacks, playing inside a lot, and another one in the Senior Bowl. He's a very disruptive player.''
I'm inclined to trust Gene Smith with this pick, but that doesn't mean I've got to like it. Nothing against Tyson Alualu, I think he's a very good player. I just don't see the value at 10 overall, but as I mentioned in a previous article... I didn't see it with Derek Cox and Terrance Knighton last season, either. For that reason last year, I'm willing to temper the "freak out" and let it play out with Alualu. I had my fair share of the "What the..." moments last night, but i've watched him play, watched tape on him, and watched him in the Senior Bowl. He's a good football player. If he's as good a football player as it seems Gene Smith believes, he should have no problem living up the 10th overall pick.
There has been a lot of talk about not trading down and draft Alualu, who many feel would have been available later. There have been surfacing reports however, that a team like the Tennessee Titans or New England Patriots were very high on Alualu, and Jacksonville felt they would miss him. There's also a report of the San Francisco 49ers offering up the 13th pick and a 4th rounder for the 10th overall pick, but Jacksonville declined. I have to assume they were offered this early in the clock and declined it in hopes of another offer, though.
Gene Smith has balls, and I'm okay with that.