Nov 10, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers offensive tackle D.J. Fluker (76) during the second half against the Denver Broncos at Qualcomm Stadium. The Broncos won 28-20. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Is DJ Fluker the Future at Left Tackle?


Is DJ Fluker the future at left tackle? That’s the question I keep asking myself. He wasn’t supposed to be a good pass blocker. He wasn’t supposed to be able to handle the responsibilities of the right tackle position, nonetheless protect Rivers’ blind side. On Sunday, Fluker illustrated just how valuable of an asset his dedication to improvement can be at the left tackle position.

 

On Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, Fluker showed  his development against one of the best pass rushing duos in the league, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, with 20 sacks between them on the season. Fluker struggled a bit against Hali to start the game. When Hali didn’t come right at him, it left Fluker confused and struggling to find someone to block while Rivers’ pocket collapsed. But, DJ never wavered. He continued to play aggressively and never let Hali get a sack.

 

In the end of the 2nd quarter, Fluker let Frank Zombo get by him on on a nice inside move. Rivers was nearly brought down before he got the ball away. The play followed a false start by Fluker, so he obviously still has a ways to go to adjust to the left side. He is also still having trouble with speed rushers off the edge. During the game winning drive, Eric Berry blew by Fluker after a good initial block to record the only sack of Rivers on the day. However, these are issues that Fluker has time to figure out.

 

Fluker’s bad plays should be the least of the Chargers’ worries. Jeromey Clary was getting beat on the right side of the line consistently. Most notably, in the 2nd quarter he allowed Justin Houston to get to Rivers almost untouched, almost causing a strip sack in our own redzone. Rivers luckily avoided the sack and the fumble, but the play still resulted in a 3rd and very long, (which Mathews was unable to convert). Clary looked far less capable on the right side than Fluker did on the left.

 

Fluker still looks like an absolute animal when he gets to move forward, instantly improving the run blocking on the left side when he made the switch. But is this the best use of his skills? He obviously has the determination to make it work, but is it ideal in the long term? I think it is definitely possible for Fluker to be successful in the NFL as a left tackle, but it would not be ideal. This year has forced Fluker to improve his pass blocking at a much quicker rate than he would have on the right side. If/when he moves back to the right side, we will see just how much better he has become, and how important he will be to the right side of the o-line for years to come

 

What position will Fluker end up playing long-term? Chime in on the poll, in the comments, or on twitter @kingofcahill

 

What is the best position for DJ FLuker in the long term?

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  • Dave O

    I love that he can handle the LT position in a pinch but I think he will become a great RT. I love his enthusiasm and winning attitude and he’s gonna be a pro bowler at the position for years to come. IMO we still need to draft that true LT in the draft next year and we will be set.

  • arnie

    I think Fluker will go back to RT, it’s just now the Chargers have options. King is still the lead man for LT and with Mike Harris presumable returning to the lineup they will have a good swing tackle. So drafting a LT is not a high priority, what will be priority is carrying more than 7 linemen for the season.

    • Conor Cahill

      I agree but I think they need a ‘real’ future LT this offseason

      • Tazzster

        There are too many needs on the defensive side of the ball to spend good draft picks or free agent money on a LT

        • Nick in PB

          That’s true, but we do need a LT we can depend on. Right now, we have a guy moving from RT to LT and another guy who’s a LT that get’s injured in a game. Misses two games, plays and then get’s injured again. I like Dunlap a lot and would have considered him the answer at LT if it weren’t for the injuries.

          • Tazzster

            At this point I think you need to roll the dice and hope that Harris and Dunlap can stay healthier next year. Because we REALLY need a speed rusher, a lock down corner and a hard hitting LB or safety.

          • Nick in PB

            Very good point Tazzster!!! The players themselves are more than capable, that’s for sure. Would love to see that happen. If Dunlap can finish off the season strong and healthy (relatively) then that would be the answer.

  • blu3ny3llow

    I think he should go back to RT…they need to draft a LT in the 1st or 2nd round

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  • Nick in PB

    I would love to see Dunlap stay healthy and not give us any worries at LT but this year, he’s proving to be a bit fragile. I want to see Fluker stay at RT where he can dominate. He would still be decent at LT but our line is much stranger with Dunlap at LT and Fluker at RT. All the pieces fit when it’s that way. I was impressed with Harris as the swing tackle… much improved. Still, it will be interesting to see how the staff moves forward next year come draft time and whether they think Dunlap can stay healthy.