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2013 NFL rookie watch, Week 7: D.J. Fluker, Matt Barkley struggle

Maybe D.J. Fluker is just a right tackle after all.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 NFL Draft made history by having offensive tackles taken No. 1 and 2 overall. The run of offensive tackles continued throughout the first round.

So far, the hype hasn't materialized into too many positive results on the field. Players have been asked to switch from left tackle to right tackle, while others have been asked to flip from the right side to the left side.

In Week 7, San Diego Chargers offensive tackle D.J. Fluker had to play some left tackle, and the experiment didn't go well. Fluker has been holding his own at right tackle this season, but last Sunday's game was a step in the wrong direction for him and exposed some of his limitations as a player.

Here are the rookies that are rising and falling.


Tyler Eifert, Tight End, Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals learned first hand what happens when they get Tyler Eifert involved in the red zone. He just makes plays. Two things that stand out about Eifert are his body control and his ability to make catches in traffic. He showed off both of those attributes on Sunday. Eifert has been fighting for playing time this season, but he has been solid when called upon.

Eddie Lacy, Running Back, Green Bay Packers

Eddie Lacy has been running hard since returning from injury. On Sunday, the yards weren't always easy to come by behind Green Bay's offensive line, but he was a wrecking ball running through a tough Cleveland front seven. Don't count him out of the rookie of the year race just yet. He seems to be just getting started.

Marcus Cooper, Cornerback, Kansas City Chiefs

A seventh-round pick out of Rutgers, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Cooper was a bit of an afterthought entering the season. He hasn't been on the field a ton for a talented Chiefs' secondary, but he has been rock solid when thrown at this season. Cooper already has two interceptions and six pass breakups. He's making a strong case to earn more playing time.


D.J. Fluker, Offensive Tackle, San Diego Chargers

Left tackle was not friendly to D.J. Fluker. He showed his lack of quickness at the snap and heavy feet. Fluker is a powerful run blocker suited for the right side of the line. Pass blocking hasn't been his strength so far, so when the Chargers' offensive line gets healthy, expect Fluker to return to the right side.

Matt Barkley, Quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles

With Michael Vick inactive and Nick Foles getting knocked out of the game, Matt Barkley was forced into his first NFL action in Week 7 against the Cowboys. It couldn't have gone much worse for Barkley, who was intercepted three times. At times last season, people thought Barkley was the most pro-ready quarterback in the draft. He didn't look that way on Sunday.

Ezekiel Ansah, Defensive End, BYU

The ups and downs with Ziggy Ansah were inevitable. He's started to hit a rough patch going up against some stiff competition. His technique still needs work. While he has been dynamic at times as a pass rusher, he isn't getting pressure consistently enough and still tends to play a bit upright. The raw potential is immense, but Ansah still needs some fine tuning.

Rookie of the Year


Giovani Bernard, Running Back, Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals still haven't fully unleashed Giovani Bernard, but his production has continued despite a limited workload. He doesn't have a ton of competition at this point in the season for Offensive Rookie of the Year. For every positive performance Geno Smith has, he follows it up with a dud, and Lacy is playing catchup after getting injured. Bernard is the leader entering the second half of the season.


Sheldon Richardson, Defensive End, New York Jets

Sheldon Richardson may not put up the big numbers that defensive rookies have in the past, but he's impacted the game on a high number of snaps. Richardson has jumped into the NFL and started manhandling blockers with his combination of violent hands and quickness. Star Lotulelei and Kiko Alonso are knocking on the door, but Richardson is the Defensive Rookie of the Year through seven weeks.

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