Former Alabama Crimson Tide offensive tackle D.J. Fluker recently paid pre-draft visits to the Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots, according to a report from Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun on Tuesday.
Fluker, the draft's fourth-best offensive tackle prospect in Dan Kadar's position rankings for SB Nation, is drawing so much interest because it's hard to think of a team that couldn't use someone like him along the offensive line. A member of the Southeastern Conference's first team and a second-team All-American, Fluker has shown the potential to wield a force similar to that of a boulder rolling downhill.
Whether protecting the quarterback or establishing a running game -- the Crimson Tide had a rather bruising one with Eddie Lacy in the backfield -- Fluker will likely be flirting with the first round until the draft (even though he's currently not a first-round selection in Kadar's latest mock).
So which of the four above teams could Fluker, a right tackle, fit best? For one, all of those team's quarterbacks -- Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, Cam Newton and Christian Ponder -- are right-handed, ruling out the ever-important blindside blocker role. The Ravens gave up the most sacks of the four teams in 2012 with 38, a total which ranked 13th-most in the NFL, while Carolina surrendered 36, tying for the 16th-highest total. Minnesota and New England ranked in the lower third of the NFL in sacks allowed. So not a pressing issue, exactly, for any of them.
Still, every team has a quarterback that they've committed themselves to -- some stronger than others -- for the foreseeable future, and taking Fluker would be another investment towards keeping their signal-caller of choice upright and healthy.
Fluker is a battering ram on the outside, and his run-blocking abilities are potential nightmare fuel for defensive linemen. This is especially true if he's taken by any of the mentioned teams, who all ranked near the top 10 in rushing yards per game last season -- the Ravens, with an average of 118.8, finished lowest of the four at 11th. The Vikings, with 164.6 yards per game, were second.
Whomever you want to envision aligning Fluker with, be it Adrian Peterson, the NFL's reigning beast among beasts; Newton and the Panthers' balanced rushing attack; Stevan Ridley and New England's newfound ground game, or the explosive Ray Rice, the combination seems promising to say the least.
It's just some pre-draft visits, nothing official, and surely the interest in Fluker isn't limited to these four teams. But, if he were to land with one of them once the draft rolls around, things do not figure to get easier for opposing defenses. That may turn out to be true wherever he goes.