The Pittsburgh Steelers signed a former first-round draft pick in defensive lineman Tyson Alualu on Tuesday and the move will hopefully provide the team’s defense some experienced depth behind starters Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt and Javon Hargrave. Alualu said Tuesday after signing his two-year contract that he believes his versatility and ability to play up and down the defensive line will be an asset to the Steelers.
“That has been a part of my strength, the versatility of being able to play inside and outside,” said Alualu during his media session. “Whatever the coaches want me to play, whatever position, I am just willing to play anything to help out, help this team. They are so close to always being in the Super Bowl. I just want to be a part of that.”
After being selected 10th overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of California, Alualu hasn’t lived up to the high expectations associated with being an early-selection in the eyes of most analysts.
After playing defensive tackle in the Jaguars defense in his first three seasons in the NFL, then-new Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley decided to move Alualu to strong-side defensive end. The move resulted in Alualu registering 42 total tackles in 2013, the second most of his career. However, Alualu only registered 1.5 sacks that season even though he tied for third on the team that year in quarterback hurries with 9.
In 2014, Alualu lost his starting job to Red Bryant and 2015 to Jared Odrick. In 2014 he failed to start a game but did start 13 contests in 2015 due to injuries to others. Last season, Alualu was inactive for the first two games of the regular season but went on to play in the final 14 contests of which he started 10 of them.
Alualu indicated Tuesday that he’s happy now to be part of an NFL organization that has a long history of winning and that’s something he’s yet to experience during his first seven seasons with the Jaguars.
“The tough thing was not winning games – out of my seven years there, the best season was my rookie year and we were 8-8,” Alualu said and he added that he had some tough years in Jacksonville.
In Pittsburgh, Alualu obviously isn’t expected to start as he’ll likely be used mostly as a rotational player and more times than not as part of the team’s sub-package defense. He brings to Pittsburgh a nice health history as the only two games he’s missed in his seven seasons in Jacksonville happened last year and were a result of him being inactive, not injured.
“Just excited about this opportunity,” Alualu said Tuesday.
Steelers fans should be excited about the team’s newest free agent addition as well as he should be an upgrade over unrestricted free agent Ricardo Mathews, who isn’t likely to be re-signed now that Alualu has been added.
Alex Kozora will have full scouting report of Alualu on Wednesday.