At the Right Tackle position, Alabama CrimsonTide prospect DJ Fluker is considered one of the top offensive tackles available in the 2013 NFL Draft. With a strong frame and surprising athleticism, teams will wonder if Fluker can move to left tackle or if he’ll stay on the right. All indications point to Fluker being a RT, but being one of the better options at the position.
Size: Fluker has the ideal size at OT standing at 6’6 335 pounds. Arms don’t seem issue, although no known measurement is available at this time. Unlike teammate Barrett Jones, Fluker is more of a power scheme guy, even though there will be some concerns about whether Fluker can move into that Zone Blocking Scheme. His weight isn’t an issue, if Fluker fails at RT, then he most certainly can kick inside to Guard in the NFL.
Technique: This is what is most frustrating watching Fluker. You can tell on game film that he wants to be that elite level of an OT, but his technique is truly what is holding him back. Watching Fluker in a few games this year, his technique flaws really stuck out in the run game. He would engage the blocker, but his hands weren’t set properly on the defender, and almost to an extent would just try to overpower his opponent. This is fine for the college game, but in the NFL you need quality technique to beat your opponent. Another play Fluker locked on and used proper form and then walled off his opponent. Fluker is more of a waist bender as an OT and when using proper technique does have good hand placement. If these technique flaws aren’t corrected though, teams will begin to target those weaknesses and beat him with ease. Doesn’t lean into his blocks, stays level against his opponent. Pad level is okay but could be improved giving him better leverage.
Pass Protection: Between run blocking and pass protection, Fluker is right now a better pass blocker. He creates a solid base with a solid bend in the knees and doesn’t get too wide and become off balance. His footwork needs a little work, but at the same time is better than some of the other quality OT’s in his class. A couple times on film he was crossed up with his feet, but it wasn’t a recurring theme. Fluker does a very good job with his hand placement in pass protection, making a point to not let his hands get outside the shoulders which can draw holding penalties. He stays at a very good length away from his opponent and doesn’t allow them to get into his body. The thing that surprised me the most with Fluker was that he was labeled as the premier “run blocker” who was an average pass protection guy. After watching film of Fluker he’s actually a good pass protector and won’t need as much work as other players in the 2013 OT class. Why I’ve been saying Fluker is more of a RT is because while he has the ability to match up against pass rushers, his foot speed is not the level of a LT. He’s got good agility but not what you tend to look for in a LT. Its almost very similar to Riley Reiff in that he could start at LT first, but you’ll see him find a perfect home to RT. When watching him on film he does a good job with mirroring his defenders, but when facing more speed rushers he does overextend and end up out of position. Against power rushers, Fluker had no problem and mirrored well, but against the speed rushers things didn’t look as pretty.
Run Blocking: This is the part of Fluker’s game that I found to be the weakest. Numerous times on film I watched an OT who started out very well, but after about 3 or 4 plays, you saw someone who just didn’t have it yet. The biggest flaw I noticed from Fluker was not his technique, but the cerebral part of his game. He would chip on his defender and then go to the 2nd level instead of finding a LB or S to block, Fluker almost looked like he couldn’t find anyone to block. It’s the little things like that Fluker doesn’t do right that seem to add up when doing film notes on him. He does a good job creating short choppy steps in the run game instead of longer strides and I really did like how he finishes his blocks. NFL teams will like that when he locks onto his opponent he can take them out of the play and that he plays to the whistle and wants to make sure the defender ends up on the ground. Fluker still needs to work on his hand placement in the run game because I noticed a few times his hands got outside the shoulders, those could end up easily being holds in the NFL. Pad level is pretty good in run blocking but again, Fluker could stand to get a little lower and create a better leverage against defenders. As for Fluker and his mobility its tough to tell because you watch him get to the second level and he looks mobile enough, but sometimes on a screen play he just looks like he’s running in sand. That being said he’s definitely mobile enough to get out on screens and get after a defender in the 2nd level. Fluker has a ton of potential as a run blocker because of his size and length, but in order to be on that elite level he needs to correct these flaws. If he does then watch out, he could become the next elite RT in the NFL.
Overall: At the beginning of the year based off preliminary evaluations I had Fluker as a top 10 guy, but right now after watching more film I have a mid first grade on him. He very well could be moving into the top 10 if he improves on his technique issues, although with how the NFL is, teams are taking more chances on OT’s who aren’t great with technique, but have good athleticism. With the trend of more RT’s going early as well, Fluker stands a good chance to hear his name called early. There really are 3 OT’s who I feel could be in that elite level in the NFL and DJ Fluker definitely is one of those players. There will be the questions about can he stick at RT or will he move inside, but from everything I’ve watched he’s not going to be moving anywhere.