Updated Apr 22, 2013 - 12:06 pm
NFL Draft: Breaking down OT D.J. Fluker
Three more prospects that could hear their names called when the Cardinals walk up to pick on April 25, and two of them are Alabama offensive linemen. Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker made up 2/5 of the best offensive line in college football in 2012, and maybe in the last decade. What do the Cardinals like so much about DJ Fluker?
The Cardinals must be sending out a lot of signals. Heard these names in last 24 hours: Lotulelei, Warmack and Fluker. #ThatTimeOfYear— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) April 17, 2013
Fluker has an incredible build, standing 6-foot-5 and 339 pounds with a condor-like arm length of 36 ¾". He has prototypical left tackle size and build, but projects to many -- myself included -- to be a guard at the NFL level.
This is because of his ability to block well in the phone booth and his dominant run blocking ability.
He does an excellent job of initially jolting the defender and then using his length to move them off the line and control them at the point of attack.
Fluker's length allows him to dictate the way his defender will go, as he is able to steer them to the direction he needs them to go in order to create lanes in the running game.
Fluker moves well to the second level and does a good job at attacking linebackers, getting into their pads and again controlling where they go.
Shows a nasty demeanor in the run game and gets a little too feisty at times where he will carry his blocks out a little too far.
Unlike teammate Chance Warmack, Fluker struggled at times during the season when it came to pass blocking.
Fluker is extremely slow in getting out of his stance and lumbers to get set into position to take on a pass rusher.
He wins in the passing game by using his length to slow down edge rushers then get his body into position instead of getting into his pass set and then using his length to keep defenders at bay.
The problem with winning with using length initially is that he needs to then get his body centered in order to get back to a proper balance in pass protection, which makes him very susceptible to a secondary counter move. This is what beat Fluker at times.
If a team drafts Fluker and leaves him on the edge, he will need consistent help in pass protection in order to get the quarterback to deep drops, as he is far too methodical in his pass sets right now for him to win consistently.
If you didn't get the idea earlier, D.J. Fluker struggles versus speed.
When asked to keep the edge clean in a one-on-one situation in pass downs, he struggles against good pass rushers and was exploited at times because of it.
It was so bad that there are reports that Western Kentucky knew when Alabama was passing based solely on how Fluker was lining up in his stance.
When Fluker does get into his pass sets he needs to find a way to get into balance quicker, as he can be caught reaching too often, opening him up to counter moves because he has overextended himself.
In the NFL, Fluker has to be more consistent in his pass sets. He has to be able to get into depth quicker and get to the point before the pass rusher or he risks being beat continuously.
I have been a D.J. Fluker fan for a while, but not as a tackle.
Fluker could have a Bobby Massie-like situation occur to him early because of how ineffective he can be against speed rushers. Could you imagine Fluker trying to block a Bruce Irvin, Robert Quinn or Chris Long?
No, I want to see Fluker become a guard in the NFL.
I think Fluker has All-Pro type ability if he kicks inside in the NFL. His ability to control defenders in the run game within the phone booth or in space is unbelievable. He shows a suddenness to his movements in the run game and has such strong hands and long arms that he can win consistently in pass pro when lined up inside, versus having to try to set outside on the edge.
I am not sure Fluker's talents warrant a pick at seven, but if the Cardinals are looking to move down -- and maybe with their interest in Warmack and Fluker they are -- he could be an intriguing option to line up next to Bobby Massie in 2013.
Seth Cox/The Sports Headquarters, Editor-in-chief of The Sports Headquarters
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