Chargers take Alabama tackle D.J. Fluker with 11th pick in draft to help plug porous O line
SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Chargers began rebuilding their woeful offensive line when they took tackle D.J. Fluker of Alabama with the 11th pick in the NFL draft Thursday night.
Rookie general manager Tom Telesco said he likes Fluker's energy, and the big right tackle said he's looking forward to showing what he's got.
"Me personally, I want to be the Ray Lewis of my offensive line. I'm a guy that's going to lead my team to victory. Just basically, be the high-energy guy. Being on the field is my playground. I enjoy it."
The Chargers made the selection after watching the top three tackles in the draft — Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel and Lane Johnson — go in the top four picks. The top two guards, Jonathan Cooper and Chance Warmack, were gone by the 10th pick.
Fluker, who played on the last two national championship teams, was one of the best run blockers in college. With the Chargers, he'll also have to help keep Philip Rivers upright. The $93 million quarterback was under siege much of last season, getting sacked 49 times and committing 22 turnovers as the Chargers missed the playoffs for the third straight season.
The Chargers said Fluker will play right tackle. Jeromey Clary is currently the starter there.
"I would never limit my abilities. I could play anywhere, right tackle, right guard, left guard, left tackle. I never stop working. Me playing? I can play. I can play right tackle," Fluker said.
"We thought, as far as a tackle, he can be one of our cornerstones moving forward on the offensive line," Telesco said in a statement. "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."
Fluker is 6-foot-5, 339 pounds.
"No. 1, other than his rare size, the thing that jumps out the most about him is the energy he plays with," Telesco said. "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."
Telesco said trading down was not an option.