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Alabama OT D.J. Fluker The Pick For Bolts At 11 Of The Draft

D.J. Fluker

With the 11th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Chargers looked to shore up the O-line, and took tackle D.J. Fluker.

Fluker has been a three year starter at the Right Tackle position for the Crimson Tide after red shirting his freshmen year. His massive body and strength make his a big time performer in the run game where he can be effective on both the first level and athletic enough to get to the second level and wall off backers.

What is a major concern is his inconsistency in his pass blocking where he looks slow at times and looses technique especially against the agile speed rushers.

Here’s what Walter Football says about Fluker:

Summary: The Alabama dynasty can be attributed to a stout defense and a nasty offensive line. The Crimson Tide’s three National Championships over the past four seasons are directly the result of the team’s offensive line dominating the line of scrimmage. For the past three seasons, Fluker has been an integral part of Alabama’ winning formula along with guard Chance Warmack and center Barrett Jones. The trio has been dominant in run blocking as running backs Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon have been unstoppable.

Fluker entered the 2012 season as a potential first-rounder, but his stock has fallen. The reason is continued problems in pass protection. Those started early in the year when he was beaten for two sacks by Western Kentucky and allowed other pass pressures. Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson also beat him for a sack, as did some defenders from Mississippi State. Fluker’s run blocking was awesome that entire time, but his pass blocking was a real liability.

In one of his best tests of the season, Fluker stepped up with a good game against LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo. Fluker did a good job of keeping Mingo from getting pressure or any sacks. That performance could help him to stay as a right tackle in the eyes of NFL scouts.

Fluker had success as a run-blocker versus Georgia, but Alabama protected him from having to block stud pass-rusher Jarvis Jones without any help. To conclude the season, Fluker was excellent against Notre Dame in the Championship Game.

Fluker started as a freshman in 2010 and stayed at right tackle for three years. He is very experienced against elite defenders. If Fluker can improve his pass protection, he could start quickly in the NFL.

Going into the NFL, run blocking is Fluker’s biggest strength. He is an absolute road grader who rides defensive linemen around the field and blasts open running lanes. The Crimson Tide had a ton of success running behind him every year, but especially in 2012. Fluker is a fiery leader who set the tone for his line. He plays with a mean streak and is very physical with defenders. When Fluker gets his hands on a defender in run blocking, that player is done.

It is obvious that Fluker has to improve his pass blocking. He needs to get better technique and faster in his drops. The junior has some quickness and athleticism, so it doesn’t make sense for him to have such heavy feet. Fluker really struggles with speed-rushers coming around the corner or darting to the inside. That blocking technique is going to need a lot of work or he could be a weak link as a pass-protector.

If Fluker doesn’t improve his pass protection, some NFL teams will probably want him to move to guard, especially if they feature pass-happy offenses. He could be an excellent guard in the NFL, so that reduces the risk associated with using a draft pick on him. It wouldn’t be surprising if Fluker has a good performance at the NFL Scouting Combine to improve his draft stock and regain some first-round consideration. He currently looks like a lock for the second day and a likely second-round pick.

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