With the 2012 NFL season in the books, and the scouting combine in the rear-view, it's time to take a closer look at the 50 players we think will be the biggest difference-makers at the next level from this draft class. To that end, we're happy to continue this year's Shutdown 50 scouting reports (Hint: There may actually be more than 50). You can read last year's group here. The final 50 players were chosen and ranked based on game tape, combine and Pro Day results, overall positional value, and attributes and liabilities on and off the field.
#24: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
We continue this year's series with Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, a 6-foot-5, 340-pound midrise apartment building of a man who has started 35 total games on the right side for Nick Saban's power-driving offensive line. That line may have been personified more by sure-fire top 10 pick Chance Warmack at left guard, but there's no question who keeps things humming on the right edge. He was one of the pointmen when the Crimson tile unraveled Notre Dame's defense in the BCS Championship game, but Fluker was an SEC star long before that.
After an impressive collegiate career, Fluker's pre-draft process got off to a bit of a clang when he weighed in at 355 pounds at the Senior Bowl. The fourth-year junior graduate was the second non-senior to ever be invited to the Senior Bowl -- Justin Pugh of Syracuse was the other. Fluker was unable to participate in the game due to a groin injury, and he had to wait until the scouting combine in late February to get over the weight issue (he clocked in at 339 there) and show NFL teams that he was really ready for the grind.
"My passion. My passion for the game," he said in Indianapolis, when asked what he'll bring to his NFL team. "I bring energy to the table every day, every practice, weekends, on game day -- that's what I do. My strengths are run-blocking, but I'm trying to fine-tune every technique of my game."
Some fine-tuning will be necessary before Fluker can take his place as one of the league's best pure power blockers, but based on his college tape, and the opponents he regularly schooled in college, it's safe to say that he's well on his way already.
Pros: Big, powerful man with an exceptionally wide base and a wingspan (36 3/8"-inch reach) that makes him nearly impossible to get around once he sets his feet and gets his hands going. Has struggled with weight at times, but can carry 330-340 pounds with his massive frame. Monstrously powerful player who can demolish defenders for long stretches at a time. Understands leverage and drives with outstanding force. Absolutely explodes underneath his opponent's pads at times and makes said opponents look pretty silly. Surprisingly agile in his kick-step and pass set. Opens huge rushing lanes when he engages, commits and sets the edge.Read More »from The Shutdown 50: Alabama OT D.J. Fluker