Though many believed it was a long-shot that a redshirt sophomore offensive tackle would declare for the 2012 NFL Draft, others held out hope that Alabama right Tackle D.J. Fluker would be the exception. After all, not many redshirt sophomore offensive tackles have started for two full years on championship-worthy offensive lines in a conference like the SEC. That was the sliver of hope for NFL fans hoping that their team could attain a 6-6 335 pound manchild to anchor the right side of their offensive line.
On Monday, Fluker put to bed any rumors of taking his talents to the next level:
“I know there have been a few stories and different things out on the message boards lately about me possibly leaving school early. I want to go ahead and put all of that to rest and make it clear that my intentions are to stay in school. At my position, I still have a lot to learn in order to mold myself into the best offensive tackle I can be. I’ve learned a lot from my coaches in my three years here and I feel like I can only get better with more experience. The most important reason is to finish my degree. Right now, I am on track to graduate next December and that’s one of the things I promised my mother that I would do when I decided to come to the University of Alabama. This is a special place and I’m looking forward to spending another year with my friends and teammates, graduating, and playing in front of the best fans in the country.”
Whether D.J. Fluker slides over to the left tackle position in order to improve his draft stock is still to
be determined. Current starter on the left side Barrett Jones is just a junior and is yet to announce his
intentions for the NFL Draft. There is also some belief around the Alabama program that prized 5-star
recruit Cyrus Kouandjio is the heir apparent to Barrett Jones at the left tackle position.
Even if Fluker plays the right tackle position again next year, barring a huge letdown he will likely end
up as a 1st rounder. In fact, it would create an interesting scenario where the top 2 offensive tackle
prospects (the other being Miami tackle Seantrel Henderson) of the 2013 NFL Draft may both end up
being right tackles, often a much less valued position than left tackles.
Meanwhile, teams with a need at offensive tackle will just have to keep their fingers crossed that other
potential 1st rounders such as USC’s Matt Kalil, Stanford’s Jonathan Martin, and Iowa’s Riley Reiff don’t
follow Fluker’s example and decide to turn pro.