Even though rookie minicamp and the eventual integration of the veterans was the orientation for the draft class of 2013 into the NFL, D.J. Fluker still has plenty of steps to take before he gets out on the field for week one. There is still some question as to where the 11th overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft will find a home on the offensive line for the San Diego Chargers, but there are no shortage of holes that need filled.
It’s no secret that the Chargers were bad on the offensive line in 2012. Quarterback Philip Rivers was sacked the second most times in the league with 49 trips to the turf, and the running game was abysmal ranking 27th in the league with just 91.3 yards per game on average. That type of production (of lack thereof) is basically a green light for opposing defenders to pin their ears back and get after a quarterback. That’s where Fluker comes in.
Taking a right tackle as a borderline top ten prospect may seem like a reach on the surface, but Fluker offers plenty of merit to validate his draft position. At 6’5” 339lbs. he looks like he could play the guard position as well. That added dimension makes the former Alabama Crimson Tide player a very intriguing guy to watch as training camp nears.
After the year that the offensive line had in 2012, obviously no starting job is safe. Center Nick Hardwick should be cemented into his spot, but everywhere else is in flux. There is a very real possibility that Fluker will supplant veteran Jeromey Clary at right tackle from day one and kick the seven-year pro inside to guard. There really won’t be much resistance to Fluker overtaking Clary at the position provided he stays healthy and continues to improve in camp.
Trying to predict what kind of performance an offensive lineman will have is a very subjective matter. A positive impact from Fluker in 2013 would see that sack total allowed decrease for the Bolts as a team, the rushing total increase by a sizable margin, and have the team find a way to win a few more games in the upcoming season. All of those goals seem very attainable for the Chargers, and Fluker figures to be a fixture on that offensive front for the next decade.