San Diego Chargers D.J. Fluker Playing Better Than Rookie Offensive Linemen Taken Before Him

By Kevin Chan
D.J. Fluker San Diego Chargers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Chargers made a questionable move when they drafted the sixth-rated offensive tackle in the 2013 NFL Draft with the 11th overall pick. However, offensive line was such a big need for them that the pick still made plenty of sense for the team. And through the first five games into the season, it can be argued that their guy, D.J. Fluker, is playing better than the five offensive linemen who went before him.

Though he’s been a little up and down, Fluker has performed pretty well overall. Coming out of college, Fluker was expected to be a mauler in the run game but was seen as too slow-footed to be a dominant pass protector. Because of his skill set, some people believed that he’d fail at offensive tackle and would be better suited at guard. However, what we’ve seen from Fluker so far has been the opposite of what we expected. His run blocking has actually been a little underwhelming so far, but it’s his pass protection that has been overall pretty impressive. Against the Oakland Raiders, Fluker graded +3.2 in pass protection, according to Pro Football Focus, and had an awesome body slam on Oakland’s Sio Moore.

Given his strengths, Fluker is bound to improve in the run game, which should make him a great overall blend of pass blocking and run blocking.

Meanwhile, top overall pick Eric Fisher has struggled through the first five games, but his underwhelming performances have been under the radar since the Kansas City Chiefs have been winning and the fact that he’s an offensive lineman. The second overall pick Luke Joeckel has also struggled, but plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are a small-market team with so many other issues that his struggles too have been under the radar. Meanwhile, fourth overall pick Lane Johnson was torched by Justin Houston for 4.5 sacks in Week 3, seventh overall pick Jonathan Cooper is out for the season with a broken leg, and tenth overall pick Chance Warmack has been good in run blocking but poor in pass protection.

Even those he was ranked as the sixth best offensive linemen heading into the draft, he could become the best of all of them. At the time he was drafted, it seemed like a questionable move, but now is looking like an excellent selection as he could become the cornerstone that the team envisioned when they drafted him.

Kevin Chan is a San Diego Chargers writer for Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.


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