A day after the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Knile Davis and Coty Sensabaugh to contracts they added a third player, Tyson Alualu to the free agent fray. The former top 10 selection of the Jacksonville Jaguars comes to the Steelers on a two-year deal after spending the first seven years of his NFL career in Florida.
While it’s always difficult to predict how much impact a free agent will have, I think Alualu may end up being the most important. His presence should not have an impact on the current defensive line starters but his experience should provide the Steelers with a guy who can spot start when necessary.
Alualu’s more important role will be that of a depth player and that’s nothing to underestimate. At 6’3″ and 305 lbs, he appears to fit the mold perfectly as a nose tackle. I don’t believe he’s limited to that however. I expect Steelers’ Defensive Line Coach John Mitchell to work him up and down the line of scrimmage as the veteran coach likes versatility.
There is no question in my mind that Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt and Javon Hargrave can be better players with more opportunities for rest during games. Alualu should be able to provide that depending on the situation and Mike Tomlin won’t have to worry about a significant drop in play. While his career certainly hasn’t gone the way you’d expect a top ten pick’s to go, he’s been an incredibly durable player.
He has not missed a game in seven seasons and started every game during his first four years. 2015 and 2016 saw him start 24 games and record two and two and half sacks respectively. Getting sacks isn’t what he’ll be asked to do though. Stopping the run and pushing the pocket will be and I expect him to be productive at it.
Another asset of having Alualu is that he’s likely very hungry. This is a guy who has played on one of the worst teams in the NFL for most of his career. That hunger should help fuel his desire for postseason action and in turn should give the Steelers everything they’re looking for in a reserve defensive lineman.
Photo courtesy: Jacksonville Jaguars