Connect with us

Alabama in the Pros

A story of redemption? Fluker must show his worth for Giants

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Former first team All-SEC player and second team All-American lineman D.J. Fluker inked a one-year deal with the New York Giants after struggling to produce for the Los Angeles Chargers since being drafted in 2013.

Per SB Nation, his career was off to a solid start. Fluker played in 15 games at right tackle back in 2013, and he ended up earning a positive grade at Pro Football Focus. Since then, his production has decreased. He finished the 2016 season ranked 54th out of 72 qualifying guards according to the Pro Football Focus rankings.

In fact, the fifth year pro has graded out better as a tackle than a guard since entering the NFL. According to ESPN, his 46.0 run-blocking grade was the 11th lowest among offensive guards — which is surprising when his run blocking has always been his biggest strength. Fluker has most certainly seen his fair share of struggles.

Before his release, the Chargers ranked 26th in rushing last season with averaging only 94.4 yards a game. The team gave up 36 sacks, and the offensive line was ranked 31st in the league. Overall, the offense as a whole ranked 14th overall in 2016. Fluker wasn’t the only player to struggle. Orlando Franklin, King Dunlap and Joe Barksdale all failed to live up to expectations entering the season.

Now that he’s on the Giants roster, only time will tell where he ends up starting — assuming he is able to earn a starting gig in the first place. Fluker will have to go up against former Florida State offensive lineman Bobby Hart to get the starting right tackle position. With that being said, Hart started 12 games in 2016 and is clearly an established starter at this moment.

The new Giants offensive lineman will give added depth for the team and extra competition moving forward — considering he started 59-of-64 games in four seasons with the Chargers. At 6’5 339 pounds, the mammoth from Foley brings a mean streak, durability and experience at a young age, which is money for the Giants organization.

Last season, Giants quarterback Eli Manning was sacked 21 times, so Fluker’s help could be needed if he can return to the level he played at back in 2013 — that’s a big if, however. Fluker has now been reunited with former Alabama teammate Landon Collins, so maybe that will allow him to be more comfortable.

As a sophomore at Alabama, Fluker started all 13 games at right tackle, which included a victory in the BCS National Championship game. In his junior season, he started 14 games at right tackle and the Tide repeated as national champions. He graded out at 98.6-percent on blocking assignments during his time at Alabama.

The Giant’s offensive line man has found a new home, and he’s excited to work with his new team.

“With Eli Manning, Odell Beckham and the rest of the team, they’re doing a great job,” Fluker said when talking to a report for “They have a great defense. I cannot wait to be apart of the team.”

Michael Cannady is a contributor for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at: @mike_can21

More in Alabama in the Pros