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2013 NFL DRAFT PREVIEW: OFFENSIVE TACKLES

Posted Apr 9, 2013

A position-by-position look at prospects in this year’s NFL Draft. This entry: Offensive Tackles.

INDIANAPOLIS – Standing 6-6 and weighing 335 pounds, it is hard to get called out.
 
Yet late last season at Alabama, D.J. Fluker was called out by teammates Anthony Steen, Cyrus Kouandjio and A.J. McCarron.  They wanted Fluker to be a better player.
 
“My right guard and my left tackle called me out and said, ‘Hey, we need you for this.’  They were like, ‘Hey, you can do it.  I believe in you.’  That’s what a team is.  Everybody depends on one another. … When somebody calls your number, calls your name out, you’ve got to go out there and perform.”
 
Fluker’s teammates felt they needed him playing with an attitude.  As talented as Alabama was across the board, it needed Fluker to dominate to get where it needed to go.  
 
That would be past LSU, Georgia and Notre Dame.  Check, check and check.  Alabama won another national title.
 
Now, Fluker stands to be one of the top picks in this year’s draft.  He played on a veteran line with the Crimson Tide, and now he is soon to take his place with an NFL team.

 

Fluker played in a preparatory lab under Nick Saban, and he expects to see somewhat of the same in the year ahead.

 

“Some of the schemes in the NFL that offensive teams run, it's kind of the same scheme,” said Fluker.  “(A) pro-style offense, I think I'll transition well to the type of offense there, and it should be no problem.”

 

To this point, football has not seemed to be that much of a problem for the native of Foley, Alabama. 

 

Fluker started 35 games at right tackle.  He was first-team All-SEC in 2012 as well as a second-team All-American.  Fluker missed only 11 assignments in 729 snaps.  He had but two penalties.

 

Fluker had 33 pancake blocks, allowed but four sacks in 267 pass attempts and blocked for eight of the 23 individual 100-yard rushing performances he saw during his career.

 

That teammates called on him was odd since he considers himself a vocal, emotional presence.  His normal chatter to an opposing lineman?

 

“I say I'm here to come take your lunch money,” said Fluker.  “I'm vocal.  I feel emotion.  That's me, (an) emotional leader.”

 

Fluker has a specific incentive on every play.

 

“The funnest (thing) is knocking a defensive end down.  Dominate on every single play.  Let ‘em know that that ball's coming right behind me.

 

“I ain't that guy (who will take a play off).  I'm gonna let you know early, I ain't the one.  That's the main thing.  You've got to be aggressive playing offensive line.”

 

Fluker played against Georgia in the SEC Championship game at 339 pounds.  He weighed 355 at the Senior Bowl before dropping back to 339 for the combine in late February.

 

“That's something I did on my own, working out every day, six days a week, seven hours a day,” said Fluker.  “It feels great, trimming down, slimming down.  It's kind of a mindset you've got to have, to lose weight.  I feel better for it.  I feel a lot more mobile and moving better.”

 

Fluker was one of the top high school prospects before entering Alabama.  He redshirted there in 2009, then started nine of 10 games at right tackle in 2010.

 

In 2011, he started 13 games at right tackle.  The Tide rushed for 34 touchdowns with an average of 214.5 yards a game on the way to winning a national title, an all-SEC affair over LSU.  Alabama repeated the feat this past season with an even wider victory margin over Notre Dame.

 

Fluker was prepared in the nation’s top conference and by Saban, one of the top coaches around.  Fluker feels prepared for what he can offer at the next level.

 

“My passion for the game (is what I bring),” said Fluker.  “I bring energy to the table every day, every practice, weekends, on game day.  That's what I do.  My strengths are run-blocking. I'm trying to fine-tune every technique of my game.

 

“Any team that wants to win a championship, any team that wants to win every Sunday, that's the best type of team that I want to go to, the team that has the attitude of, ‘(We) will not be denied.’  The guys that want to go out there and actually work hard, that actually want to do something, do something special – go to the Super Bowl, win a championship. That's the type of team that I want to be a part of.”

 

Fluker does not mind playing tackle or guard.  Wherever he plays, it will be with passion.

 

“I'm always like that,” said Fluker.  “I'm the high-energy guy on that (Alabama) team and people know that.  In the SEC championship game, me and my right guard, we showed that.

 

“There's no time to relax.  Every day to me is a work day.  The way I feel, me as a person, I want to be the Ray Lewis of my offensive line.”

 

LOOKING AT THE 2013 NFL DRAFT'S OFFENSIVE TACKLES

 

THE LAST FIVE

The last five offensive tackles drafted by the Colts:

 

2011:  Anthony Castonzo, first round, Boston College

2007:  Tony Ugoh, second round, Arkansas

2006:  Charlie Johnson, sixth round, Oklahoma State

2006:  Michael Toudouze, fifth round, TCU

2004:  Jake Scott, fifth round, Idaho

 

THIS YEAR'S DRAFT

An alphabetical list of offensive tackles expected to be selected in the 2013 NFL Draft (*-denotes underclassman):

 

Oday Aboushi, Virginia

Eric Fisher, Central Michigan

D.J. Fluker, Alabama*

Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M*

Lane Johnson, Oklahoma

Justin Pugh, Syracuse*

David Quessenberry, San Jose State

Jordan Mills, Louisiana Tech

Ricky Wagner, Wisconsin

 

Note:  The content in this story and in the series of draft-eligible players that appears on Colts.com in no way reflects the position of the Indianapolis Colts.

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