The San Diego Chargers used their first-round pick (No. 11 overall) in the 2013 NFL Draft to select former University of Alabama tackle D.J. Fluker. I was surprised that they did not try to go for a left tackle to protect quarterback Philip Rivers and instead goes for a right tackle.
“He comes from a winning program and he’s going to bring a mentality that we can add here to our offensive line,” said Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco. “A physicality. A toughness. He can help both the run and pass game. He’s a guy we think can be a cornerstone in our offensive line for a long time.”
The 6-5, 339-pounder was a cornerstone for the two-time defending BCS Champion Crimson Tide, starting all 27 games at right tackle over the last two seasons. A second-team Associated Press All America and a first-team All-Southeastern Conference pick as a junior in 2012, Fluker graded out at 98.6% on his blocking assignments, he surrendered only four sacks, and he was flagged just two times the entire season as Alabama finished the season 13-1 and 7-1 in the SEC. Among Fluker’s 2012 statistics, he was credited with 90 knockdown blocks, 22 pancake blocks and 15 touchdown-resulting blocks for an Alabama offense that averaged 445.5 yards per game, 31st nationally and fourth in the SEC. The Crimson Tide were even better on the ground, ranking 16th nationally and second in the SEC at 227.5 yards per game.
“D.J. is the guy, day-in and day-out that will go get it,” said Fluker in describing what he’s like on the field. “He’s the guy that you will go to war with for 60 minutes in a game. A guy that’s going to give you everything he’s got on every single play. A guy also that’s a leader of his offensive line. Me personally, I want to be the Ray Lewis of my offensive line, and my team. I’m a guy that’s going to lead my team to victory. And, just basically be the high-energy guy. I love to have fun. Being on the field is my playground. I enjoy it.”
Fluker redshirted at Alabama as a true freshman in 2009 and he earned SEC All-Freshman honors in 2010 as he played in 10 games with nine starts at right tackle. He then started all 13 games for the Crimson Tide at right tackle as a sophomore in 2011. That ’11 season proved to be a precursor to his junior season as Fluker helped Alabama rank 31st in total offense and 16th in rushing offense while recording 13 touchdown-resulting blocks, 97 knockdowns and 31 pancakes.
“I never limit my abilities, I can play anywhere,” said Fluker in response to where he thinks he’ll fit in. “Right tackle, right guard, left guard, left tackle, it doesn’t matter. The sky is the limit. I’m a guy that works to get better. I never stop working. I can play right tackle. I promise you can I do that. Definitely.”