Alualu, a Samoan raised in Hawaii, was penciled into the second round of many mock drafts, but Jacksonville quietly went about acquiring info on him. They fell in love with his versatility on the line, as he can come off the edge to rush the passer, in addition to plugging the middle from his customary spot at nose tackle.
Regardless, many believe Jacksonville made a bad decision. Nobody thought Alualu (pictured, left) would be taken in the next few picks after the Jags, so trading down or selecting someone else seemed like a logical move.
Not to Jacksonville GM Gene Smith.
"You can call this a reach,'' Smith told SI's Peter 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.
"This is not a popularity contest,'' Smith continued. "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. There might have been jaws dropping in your business, but I don't think there were in draft rooms.''
That's not true, at least according to one scout King spoke to.
"Stunning,'' a club official told him. "Almost fell out of my chair.''