Size: DJ Fluker has all of the size you could ask for in an offensive lineman. He weighed in at just under 6’5” and 355 pounds at the Senior Bowl. On top of that he has 10 ¼ inch hands and 36 3/8 inch arms, and that arm length aids him very well both as a run blocker and a pass protector. When you draw up the ideal mauling offensive lineman it’s hard to think of a better prototype than Fluker.
Athleticism: This isn’t one of Fluker’s strong suits, but he’s not a lead footed player either. He has some lateral agility to attempt to take away the speed rush, he can get to the second level and occupy linebackers, and while he doesn’t look natural in space he isn’t a liability there either. No one will mistake Fluker for Luke Joeckel or Jonathan Cooper, but he’s not a bad athlete given his size and bulk.
Pass Protection: This is the question mark for Fluker: How good will he be in pass protection at right tackle at the next level? I haven’t seen any indication he could consider a switch to the left side, and while I believe he will get a shot at right tackle he could need to move inside to guard at some point. I say this because he struggles with speed off the edge (see game versus Western Kentucky and Quanterus Smith this year) and isn’t a quick twitch athlete that recovers quickly. He doesn’t mirror well either in my estimation, and quicker defensive ends who can slap his hands away to keep him from locking on can have a lot of success against him. He doesn’t replace his hands very well when they are slapped away either, so unless he locks onto you initially there’s a good chance he’s going to be out of position at some point in pass protection. However, when he does get out of his stance and get his hands on the defender the play is usually over for that pass rusher. His massive arms really help in this area and he makes it hard (if not impossible) for defenders to get their hands into his chest and bull rush him. Considering that and his impressive lower body strength he’s tough to get off balance and bull rush, and honestly I don’t think I saw that in any of the games I watched of him. If Fluker is going to get moved inside to guard it’s going to be because he struggles in this aspect of his game, and this was made more obvious by the help Alabama attempted to give him at times with Eddie Lacy chipping or doubling his man in pass protection. He’s going to be an average pass blocker at right tackle, but that’s not why you are drafting him.
Run Blocking: If Fluker is high on your draft board this part of his game is why. He’s an absolute mauler in the run game and is one of the best run blocking offensive linemen in the entire class. He uses his length well, he has great strength to generate push off the line of scrimmage and rarely, if ever, loses ground on a run play. He is dominant in this area and generates very impressive movement off the ball as a man blocker, can reach linebackers at the second level, is absolutely lethal when down-blocking on defensive tackles, and has enough quickness to get in position and wall off defenders when asked. He doesn’t move very well when asked to pull or block in space on screens, but when asked to block one on one he is dominant enough to pancake his man regularly. He is going to be a very good run blocker whether he is outside at right tackle or inside at guard.
Overall: Fluker is an interesting prospect. He’s not very difficult to figure out- he has fantastic size, strength, length and is a dominant run blocker that leaves something to be desired in pass protection. I think he will get a shot outside at tackle, but if that doesn’t work out he will slide inside to guard. Either way he is going to be a very powerful guard that is either average (at tackle) or potentially above average (at guard) in pass protection. He’s going to struggle against great athletes that can keep him from engaging them with his heavy, powerful hands. Once he gets his hands on you he can control and take you out of the play in both phases of the game, but he struggles against speed and quickness in pass protection. That will be his problem no matter where he plays on the offensive line, but his length should keep shorter, squatty defensive tackles from getting into his pads and getting him off balance at guard. I have a late-1st, early 2nd round grade on him because even if he can’t stick outside he can be a pro-bowl caliber guard at the next level.
Projection: Late 1st-Early 2nd. For once my grade and my projection are the same. I expect Fluker to have a chance of going late round 1 to a team that values dominant run blocking in a man blocking scheme. He isn’t a good fit for a zone blocking scheme which means that if he doesn’t go late round 1 he could slip into the beginning of round 2. I expect he will be gone in the first 40-45 selections though.