The 2013 version of the NFL Draft promises to be loaded with some phenomenal talent in the trenches. Several names in this year’s class have been touted as sure things since the collegiate season concluded, but that’s merely conjecture. For the St. Louis Rams, they landed themselves what they believe to be a certainty in Jake Long in free agency, but one player alone cannot mask all of the deficiencies along the offensive line. The team still has holes to fill and this is a player that could really aid that cause.
D.J. Fluker, Tackle
Obviously Fluker is a massive individual with all of the characteristics of a prototypical NFL tackle. His natural power gives him an immediate advantage to setting the edge on running plays by blocking down on the defensive end. He uses a wide base to combat bull rushes and has enough foot quickness to stay in front of speedy defenders. It’s nearly impossible for defensive players to separate from Fluker once he locks on. His length and effort give him the upper hand against any potential pass rushers looking to beat him off of the snap.
While it is advantageous to have height and bulk on your side, Fluker sometimes get off balance due to his size and his technique breaks down as a result. He has a tendency to overextend leading to a vulnerability to oncoming rushers winning the leverage battle. The quickness is there, but sometimes the footwork is lacking with Fluker. Lateral movement is a real concern as he seems to be limited to a role as an in-line blocker at the next level. His heavy-handedness is an advantage in run blocking, but against pass rushers he lacks the quickness to keep them from getting to his body and turning the corner.
WHY DOES HE FIT?
With the recent newsflash that Rodger Saffold has not spoken to the team since the signing of Long early in the offseason, the former left tackle expected to start at right tackle is kind of a question mark. Fluker is a roadgrader who would immediately upgrade the Rams’ rushing attack, and he also has the potential to become a sound pass protector as well on the right side. It may be seen as a bit of a risk to take a right tackle in the first round, but if the Rams used their 22nd overall pick or even traded down a handful of slots, the choice makes plenty of sense.
The possibility of Fluker ending up in St. Louis all depends on what they believe their future is with Saffold on the right side. His contract runs out following the 2013 season and it’s highly unlikely with his recent spat that he will welcome returning to the Rams in a lesser role on the right side.