D.J. Fluker Scouting Report
D.J. Fluker, 6-6/335
By Charlie Campbell
Ability to sustain blocks
Has a mean streak
Raises his level of play in big games
Has good length
Has some quickness to the second level
Perfect for a man-blocking scheme
Lots of experience against first-round talents
Poor pass-blocking technique
Needs to improve footwork
Can struggle with speed-rushers
Slower in his drop than he should be
Could be forced into guard
Probably won't fit a zone-blocking system
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.
Player Comparison: Andre Smith
The Bengals high first-rounder took some time to get going, but he's turned into one of the better right tackles in the NFL. Smith is a physical blocker who can blast open running lanes. Fluker won't be selected as high as Smith was, but if Fluker lands with a good offensive line coach who develops him well, it wouldn't be a stretch for Fluker to turn into a tackle who is similar to Smith.
Carolina, New York Jets, New York Giants, Seattle, New England
There are a number of teams that could consider Fluker on the second day of the the 2013 NFL Draft. The Panthers need an upgrade at tackle since Jeff Otah was let go. A blocker like Fluker would help invigorate their ground game.
The Jets' right tackle issues were highly discussed as Austin Howard was a "human turnstile" as Walt put it. They really could use a blocker like Fluker to improve their rushing offense, and he should be on the short list for their second-rounder.
The Giants have an old offensive line and need a long-term right tackle. Fluker fits them well with his run blocking, and they like big players with athleticism. He could be a good selection in the second round.
The Patriots could use some youth on their offensive line, but Fluker would need work as a pass-protector before he could be trusted to protect Tom Brady.
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