Cowboys draft preview: Tyson Alualu

Cowboys Draft Prospect: Tyson Alualu (0:35)

California defensive lineman Tyson Alualu (0:35)

ESPNDallas.com will look at a potential Cowboys pick each weekday leading up to the draft.


Size: 6-2 3/8, 295

School: California

Position: Defensive end/defensive tackle

Scouts Inc. rank: No. 6 at position (DT), No. 35 overall (scouting report)


Alualu is a tough, experienced 3-4 defensive end with the versatility to also play nose tackle. He's similar to Jay Ratliff in that he doesn't have prototypical size but plays with a nonstop motor. Alualu has extremely strong hands and does an excellent job playing with leverage, allowing him to be a force at the point of attack. He sheds blocks well and is a powerful tackler. Alualu, who is married with two kids, is considered a high-character prospect.


While he's a good bullrusher, he doesn't have reliable pass-rushing counter-moves. He relies primarily on strength and effort to rush the quarterback and needs to improve his technique. His footwork against the run is inconsistent. He doesn't have the elite range required to chase down running backs in the backfield. He's not extremely explosive off the ball and doesn't change directions quickly. He doesn't have prototypical height for a 3-4 defensive end or the ideal bulk to play inside.


Alualu is projected as an early second-round pick, so he could be the Cowboys' target if they trade down. The Cowboys have three defensive ends who will be playing on one-year tenders next season in Marcus Spears, Jason Hatcher and Stephen Bowen. It's unlikely that all three will return in 2011, so there is a need at the position. With his experience in a 3-4, Alualu could compete for playing time immediately.


"If there's a word that truly represents Tyson's game, it's versatility. He can do so much at so many different positions and be so effective. We played him as a wide rusher, dropped him in coverage, used him as a 3 technique, as a 5 technique and as a nose. Amongst all those responsibilities, it was rare for him to make a mental error and his production was excellent, leading Pac-10 defensive linemen in tackles. ... He can be a starter for someone and provide depth at multiple positions. He'd be your 5 technique and 3 technique and be very effective at those two positions and still be able to contribute in other places. He's someone who can really get after the passer in third-down and nickel situations, but he can also be an every-down player. ... One of the strengths of his game is the ability to use his hands. He can very quickly shed a blocker and use that guy's body to close a gap while getting in the other gap. He's able to strike someone and defeat them mano-a-mano and he complements that with his movement. ... [His character] is literally as good as it could possibly get. He's a family man, very religious. He has a wife and two children, and football is very important to him. He constantly wants to get better and is always in the coaches' office trying to learn. He's someone you'll never, ever have to worry about."