The writing was on the wall for DJ Tialavea at tight end, where he was challenging incoming fifth round pick Eric Saubert and promising reserve Josh Perkins for a roster spot. Both of those guys have more well-rounded games than Tialavea, whose calling card is his blocking ability, and former rugby..er(?) Alex Gray is coming next year. The chances of Tialavea hanging around were probably pretty slim.
So he’s reportedly doing something that should, in theory, greatly enhance his chances of sticking around. The 26-year-old is switching to the offensive line.
DJ Tialavea has changed his number to 74, now an offensive lineman #Falcons— Kelsey Conway (@FalconsKelsey) August 3, 2017
This is an intriguing move for a handful of reasons. At 6’4”, 260 pounds, Tialavea needs to add some weight to have a prayer of sticking at guard or tackle, but he comes in with legitimate blocking skills and quicker feet than your average lineman. His chances are greatly helped by the fact that the Falcons simply don’t have a lot of established depth along the line aside from the loser of the Ben Garland/Wes Schweitzer guard battle and fourth round pick Sean Harlow, who is a virtual roster lock at this point. The swing tackle battle is wide open, and the team would presumably not mind keeping a third option on the interior of the line if someone stands out.
The odds are against Tialavea being that guy in 2017, obviously, but if he impresses he’ll certainly be in the mix for a roster spot or a practice squad slot when the dust settles. At tight end, meanwhile, the Falcons are basically down to just deciding whether they’re keeping three or four players at the position, with Perkins looking like the man ultimately impacted by that decision.
If nothing else, recall how a random position change worked out for C.J. Goodwin. Tialavea will be an interesting man to watch in camp, and if nothing else, he’s increased his chances of hanging around as a member of the practice squad and developing as a lineman.