The San Diego Chargers chose former Alabama Crimson Tide right tackle D.J. Fluker with the 11th pick in round one of tonight’s NFL Draft. Fluker started all 27 games for Alabama over the last two seasons and was switched from left to right tackle during his time in college.
Fluker graded at 98.6 percent on blocking assignments and was a Walter Camp and Associated Press second-team All-American, as well as an All-SEC first-team member. According to Tom Krasovic of utsandiego.com, former St. Louis Rams all-time great Marshall Faulk said “I think he can play left tackle.”
Whether or not Fluker has the mobility to protect Philip Rivers‘ blindside remains to be seen. Fluker lost 16 pounds over the last three months to go from 355 to 339 and according to Krasovic, he has the longest arms in the draft, which is a positive for blocking in passing and running plays.
San Diego has a veteran RT in Jeromey Clary who started all 16 games in 2008, 2010 and 2011, while making 14 starts last season for the Lightning Bolts.
San Diego’s offensive line allowed 49 sacks last season, which ranked fourth in the NFL, so there has to be improvements in the upcoming season to give Rivers more time in passing situations.
Two of the four CBS experts predicted that Fluker would be the seventh pick in round one, so San Diego may have gotten a steal with Fluker dropping to them at No. 11. There had been talk that San Diego was going to trade up to go after a left tackle like Luke Joeckel or Lane Johnson, who went second and fourth in tonight’s draft.
Fluker will more than likely get a shot at LT in 2013, but Clary’s contract is up after the 2014 season, so Fluker could be San Diego’s RT for the future.