As you’ve seen/heard stated here at Rant Sports probably 1,000 times by now, the Dallas Cowboys absolutely have to draft an offensive lineman with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. The team has put off the glaring problem for far too long and it something simply has to be done about it now. Ideally, the Cowboys will draft a guard in the first round like Alabama‘s Chance Warmack or North Carolina‘s Jonathan Cooper. However, the closer the draft gets, the higher those two players are rising in mock drafts, so they will likely be gone by the time Dallas is on the clock. That leads us to Alabama offensive tackle DJ Fluker, who would be an excellent replacement for the under-achieving Doug Free if the Cowboys decide to cut the latter this offseason.
The Cowboys would be happy with Fluker at No. 18 because he shows way more hustle than Free has since signing his big contract in 2011. He’s not very quick, but he knows how to make up for it through sheer effort and he did that often the last two seasons for the Crimson Tide while winning back-to-back BCS National Championships.
The real key for Fluker is his size. He’s a mammoth at 6-foot-5, 340 pounds with incredible length; his wing span is over seven feet and his hands are 10.5 inches long. If a quicker pass rusher gets the jump on him at the snap, Fluker can use his long arm and humongous hands to recover even though he doesn’t have great quickness. These same attributes make him an excellent run blocker as well; if a smaller, quicker player sees him coming, they can typically shake him in the open field, but when Fluker engages a defender, that player absolutely will not make the tackle.
Fluker has the strength to match his size and developed a nice wide base at Alabama to absorb the blow of bull rushers. His size also makes him immovable in pass protection as he can sometimes hold off two defenders by blocking one and getting in the other’s way.
Fluker probably won’t be a Hall of Famer, but he’s a solid first-round pick and could readily excel with good coaching. If the Cowboys are wise, they’ll part ways with Free and draft Fluker at No. 18 if both Warmack and Cooper are gone by that point.