Going on the clock an hour into the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars had their choice of several consensus top prospects with the 10th pick.
Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen, Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant, and defensive ends Derrick Morgan (Georgia Tech) and Jason Pierre-Paul (South Florida) all entered Thursday with early first-round grades, yet all remained available after the first nine teams' selections.
But the Jaguars, demonstrating utter disregard for popular opinion and complete trust in their scouting department, chose California defensive lineman Tyson Alualu.
Jacksonville fans, most of whom must surely have been blind-sided by the selection, will have to hope that Alualu isn't a surprise of the same order as last year's third overall pick, Tyson Jackson. Despite signing a five-year, $51 million contract with $37 million guaranteed, Jackson failed to make an impact for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2010.
Instead, the Jaguars' faithful should think back to the team's two third-round choices in 2009. Neither Temple defensive tackle Terrance Knighton nor William & Mary cornerback Derek Cox were listed anywhere near the top of ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper's value board, yet both showed tremendous potential as 16-game rookie starters.
Picking against the grain with the 10th overall pick, though, Jacksonville general manager Gene Smith will be expected to have unearthed an even better surprise in Alualu.
NFL Draft Scout describes Alualu as a "high-intensity player who plays with reckless abandon. Seems to enjoy the physical aspect of the game and is willing to throw his body into the pile."
In fact, it's hard to find a hole in Alualu's game on that scouting report other than his lack of pass rush technique—a nitpicky criticism for an interior defensive lineman.
"Had Alualu played in the Big Ten or SEC," the report reads, "more would know his name."
As the 2010 NFL Draft's 10th pick, obscurity won't be Alualu's problem anymore.