NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 25: D.J. Fluker of the Alabama Crimson Tide holds up a jersey on stage after he was picked #11 overall by the San Diego Chargers in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 25, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
It was not a secret the Chargers needed an offensive lineman or four. They got one in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, but not the one most Chargers fans were hoping for.
San Diego selected D.J. Fluker, a massive tackle from Alabama, with the 11th overall pick. I can say "hulking" because he's 6'4", 339 pounds.
He played right tackle at Alabama, and probably best fits there in the NFL, and that's where the Chargers plan to put him.
“We thought, as far as a tackle, he can be one of our cornerstones moving forward on the offensive line," said Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco. "We were looking to add some help there. D.J. is going to be a great fit for us both in the run game and pass game.”
The Chargers do need help at both tackle spots, but most people thought they'd take one of the three marquis left tackles if one was available.
That idea was squashed quickly, when Eric Fisher went first to the Chiefs, Luke Joeckel went second to the Jaguars, and Lane Johnson went 4th to the Eagles.
Then both the top offensive guards flew off the board, so the Chargers were facing a decision. Do they stretch and take a guy who's the 6th-best offensive lineman on the board? Or do they take a player ranked as one of the best at his position?
Both Sharrif Floyd, a defensive tackle from Florida, and Star Lotulelei, a defensive tackle from Utah, were both projected as top-10 talents, and both were still on the board. The Chargers do have a need on the interior defensive line.
The loss of Antonio Garay and Aubrayo Franklin have left Cam Thomas as the only defensive tackle on the roster with any substantial NFL game experience.
So the Chargers ended up with D.J. Fluker. He is known as a dominating run blocker, but has trouble with pass protection. The Chargers need help on both fronts, so Fluker should be able to help in some capacity.
The Chargers think it wasn't a reach; it was more of a coups.
“Number one other than his rare size, the thing that jumps out the most about him is the energy he plays with on the football field," said Telesco. "He just loves to play the game. He loves to practice. He loves to play. It’s very rare to see big men – big tackles – have as much energy and passion on the field as he does. That jumps out at you. He’s going to help us both obviously in the run game and pass game. He’s an outstanding run blocker. He’s powerful. He’s also got good feet to move in space and to block in space. We think he can protect our right side pretty well in pass protection.”