D.J. Fluker | Right Tackle | Alabama | 6'5, 340 pounds
Throughout the 2012 season, Alabama's offensive line looked like men amongst boys. Led by Chance Warmack and Barrett Jones, the Crimson Tide offensive line paved the way for over 3,000 yards rushing from Alabama running backs.
But Warmack and Jones aren't the only pro-ready blockers on Alabama's offensive line. Right tackle D.J. Fluker, a three-year starter, may have been the best run blocker of the bunch. At 6'5, 340 pounds, Fluker is a complete mauler in the run game and has the size to make a quick transition to the NFL.
Fluker is among the best run blockers in this draft class. His size helps him completely dominate at the line of scrimmage and anchor the right side of Alabama's offensive line. While he isn't necessarily the quickest lineman, Fluker can be tough to beat because of his length. Given his prototypical size, Fluker has solid movement skills, though that's definitely an area where he can improve.
Fluker is tough to bull rush. He is solid in his stance and is tough to move off his blocks due to his wide base and incredible length and bulk. He also plays with decent balance for his size. Fluker has powerful hands on his initial punch to drive defenders off the football and open up huge lanes in the running game. He also is able to get to the next level of the defense and take linebackers out of the equation. Once he engages on his block he's tough to shed.
While Fluker has the big size to succeed in the NFL, he has heavy feet in pass blocking. While his length helps him get away with his lack of quickness against speed rushers, his lack of foot speed will cost him dearly against the best edge rushers in the NFL. Fluker doesn't have the quickness to consistently handle pass rushers' secondary moves and doesn't have the speed to make up for it. In addition to having heavy feet in pass protection, his technique isn't the cleanest when it comes to footwork when pass blocking, either. He doesn't shuffle cleanly from side to side and doesn't have the change of direction skills to excel as anything except an in-line blocker. Fluker sometimes gets too wide in his stance, too, which doesn't do him any favors in terms of his change of direction skills.
Fluker has heavy hands, which helps him get the initial punch discussed above in the running game, but he doesn't have quick hands to deal with edge rushers at the next level. He will be confined to playing right tackle in the NFL. He shed some weight off of his 355-pound weight during the season and will need to maintain his weight in order to stick at tackle.
Fluker is starting to get some first-round attention. His size and power are going to attract teams that need a big presence on the right side of the offensive line. His lack of clean footwork and quickness of the snap could cause him to struggle at tackle in the NFL. He will need to continue to improve in those areas and continue to learn how to use his length to make up for his lack of quickness. In the running game, Fluker could dominate from day one in the NFL.
Pro Comparison: Phil Loadholt, Minnesota Vikings
Like Loadholt, Fluker will dominate in the running game, but may struggle against increasingly athletic NFL pass rushers. Quickness and footwork are two areas of concern with both of these players, but Loadholt's dominance in the running game has been enough for him to find a home in the NFL.