The Pittsburgh Steelers don’t make many waves in free agency, and they didn’t again this past offseason. They did their usual song and dance of signing a couple players, most with veteran status, a few days after the frenzy has calmed down in hopes of making their lineup, top to bottom, better.
This is exactly what they did when signing Coty Sensabaugh, Knile Davis and former Jacksonville Jaguars Top 10 pick Tyson Alualu.
When it comes to Alualu, being a Top 10 draft pick is certainly something which carries a burden on players as they look to prove their worth, and their draft position. That burden was something which slowly ate away at Alualu, and he is certainly at peace with his new home in the Steel City.
"What I've learned, looking back, is you can't let those pressures turn into stress," Alualu told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN. "It can definitely get to you if you start listening to other people's opinions. You've got to learn to block out the noise and make the most of your opportunities. The good ones know how to use it to their advantage and just kind of ball out."
Alualu heard everything from “draft bust” to “wasted pick” while in Jacksonville, and it started to impact his game. However, it wasn’t just what people were saying, but also how he was coached, which he felt truly impacted his game.
"For me, I was always good on reaction," Alualu said. "They kind of took that away from me. I'm not blaming him, he was a good coach. But the way I took it was wrong. Looking back, I should have just continued to play like what got me to be a top pick instead of trying to please and do it his way."
To say there is a huge difference between the Jaguars’ organization and the Steelers’ is a gigantic understatement, and Alualu is out to not only prove to himself he can still play at a high level, but also to prove some people in Jacksonville, FL wrong.
"You want to prove other people wrong that think you were a bad pick," Alualu said.
Alualu might not get the repetitions he received in Jacksonville, being behind the likes of Stephon Tuitt, Cameron Heyward and Javon Hargrave, but his versatility and pedigree makes him a welcome addition to the roster. Although he spent most of the offseason nursing a nagging calf injury, the hope is he will be healed and ready to roll when the Steelers travel to Cleveland in Week 1 of the regular season.
As the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” The Steelers are hoping Alualu provides just that in roster depth along the defensive line the next two seasons.