Chargers pick OT Fluker with 11th pick in 2013 Draft

D.J. Fluker

The best way to improve an offense is by upgrading your offensive line. Which the Chargers desperately need to do. I don’t know a better way to do it than in the NFL Draft.

With the 11th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers selected D.J. Fluker from the University of Alabama.

This years draft was filled with offensive lineman. Eight of this years first twenty picks were lineman. That doesn’t sound like much, but comparing it with the one offensive lineman pick drafted during the first twenty picks last year it’s quite a bit. In fact, three of the first five picks this year were offensive tackles. Eric Fisher to the Chiefs with the first pick, Luke Joeckel to Jacksonville with the second pick, and Lane Johnson to the Eagles with the fourth pick.

This years draft was a chance for teams to stock up their offensive lines. Eric Fisher, OT from the University of Central Michigan, (as mentioned earlier) was this years first pick in the draft. An offensive tackle hasn’t been chosen with the first pick since the 2008 Draft. The Miami Dolphins chose Jake Long from Michigan that year.

With all the anticipation of this years draft (along with its many lineman prospects) the Chargers were bound to improve their offensive line. More importantly their left tackle predicament. The blind side of Philip Rivers hasn’t been the same since former starter and All-Pro tackle Marcus McNeil retired August of 2012. Jared Gaither, the “answer” to their left tackle problem, could not stay healthy and was released after the 2012 season even with one year of his contract remaining.

Last season Rivers was sacked fourty-nine times, he fumbled the ball fifteen times and lost the ball seven of those fifteen times.

To make things even more interesting, during the two years Marcus McNeil was either injured or retired, Philip Rivers threw thirty-seven interceptions. The four years before those (when McNeil was healthy) he threw a combined fourty-eight interceptions. Ever since McNeil retired the Chargers have obviously missed him.

Lane Johnson was the closest chance that the Chargers had of having a possible elite left tackle from the draft. Left tackles Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel were already projected to be two of the top five picks. Johnson was a left tackle at the University of Oklahoma. In High School, Johnson was a starting quarterback. He got a scholarship to the University of Oklahoma to be a Tight End. But was converted to left tackle midway through his 2011 season. So he has raw athleticism and is very big and strong. Johnson is inexperienced at the offensive line position but has shown the ability to adapt and has great potential. He is 6’7″ and 303 lbs. However, not just the Chargers noticed his raw athleticism and potential which drove his draft stock up the roof.

Before the Chargers knew it the three main left tackle prospects were gone.

So that’s when they decided to take a look at another important piece of the o-line. More specifically the offensive guard position.

But the top two were gone by the 10th pick. Johnathon Cooper from North Carolina and Fluker’s former teammate at Alabama, Chance Warmack.

So, the next top pick at guard would be D.J. Fluker. Fluker is said to be one of the safest picks in this years draft.

D.J. was a three-year starter with the Alabama Crimson Tide, being a member of the last two Crimson Tide championships. He was an elite college run blocker and was also a great pass blocker for quarterbacks Greg McElroy and AJ McCarron. Two very impressive quarterbacks, who were very productive in their college years at BAMA. Fluker entered the draft after his junior year, foregoing his senior year. He was named second-team AP All-American. Fluker says, “Me personally, I want to be the Ray Lewis of my offensive line. I’m a guy that’s going to lead my team to victory. Just basically, be the high-energy guy. Being on the field is my playground. I enjoy it.”

D.J. Flukers 40 yard dash time was 5.31 seconds, he did twenty-one reps of 225 on bench press. Fluker is 6’5″, 339 pounds, and his arm length is 36.68 inches.

So when the Chargers turn to pick, there was no doubt they were going to pick D.J. Fluker. Fluker was also the third and latter of three straight picks from Alabama. Following behind, CB Dee Milliner (9th pick) and OG Chance Warmack (10th pick).

GM Tom Telesco said “He (D.J. Fluker) comes from a winning program and he’s going to bring a mentality that we can add here to our offensive line, a physicality, a toughness. We think he can help both the run and pass game. He’s a guy we think can be a cornerstone on our offensive line for a long time.”

“For an offensive lineman he plays with a lot of energy and passion. You don’t see that very often, especially with big guys. That’s one of the things you see in the tape right away is the energy he plays with. That will come out in his personality and it comes out on the field as well.”

Fluker will be a right tackle for the San Diego Chargers, according to new head coach Mike McCoy. Fluker doesn’t mind playing a different position than he did in college. He has complete confidence in himself and what he’s doing on the field. “I would never limit my abilities. I could play anywhere, right tackle, right guard, left guard, left tackle. I never stop working. Me playing? I can play. I can play right tackle,” Fluker said. He will be competing with Jeromey Clary for that starting position.

Tell us what you think about San Diego drafting D.J. Fluker in the comment section below.








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