Welcome to the 2013 NFL Draft 24th Pick Tournament! Starting now until this tournament ends (late February/early March), the readers of Stampede Blue will decide who moves on the the next round. Let's dive into the opening matchup of D.J. Fluker versus Dallas Thomas on the offense side of the bracket!
Fluker is a mammoth of a man. He stands at 6'5 and weighed 355 pounds at the Senior Bowl in Mobile. He's a powerful run blocker and grades out as one of the best in the draft at that alongside his teammate, Chance Warmack. D.J. has a mean streak in him and tends to bully his defenders into the turf with extremely physical blocks. The Alabama offensive tackle proves his worth in the biggest games of the season, as he raises his level of play in them.
D.J. has lots of experience against other first round products (Jarvis Jones, Sam Montgomery, and Barkevious Mingo) as he plays in the SEC, the true semi-pro league of the NFL. He is very athletic and has good length on his frame(36 and 3/8ths inch arms). Fluker is perfect for a team like the Colts that runs a man blocking scheme, as he can get to the second level quick to finish off big runs. D.J. is also a fiery leader for the Crimson Tide. He was a team captain and was on two national championship teams.
Fluker does have some flaws in his game though. He needs to improve his pass-blocking techniques, which are very poor. Fluker needs to improve his footwork, because at times he tends to gas and get heavy feet. Also, D.J. can struggle against speed rushers on the next level due to his foot work. As mentioned earlier, Fluker will fit a man-blocking scheme, but he will not fit a zone-blocking scheme. The reason behind that is due to his lacking pass techniques.
Here are some scouting videos of Fluker from the great, JPDraftJedi.
Alabama vs Michigan: Fluker is #76 in red, lined up at right tackle.
Alabama vs Notre Dame: Fluker is #76 in white, lined up at right tackle.
Fluker is projected to become a right tackle in the NFL. If he can improve his pass-protection techniques, he should be a steal for whoever takes him in the first round. Another good thing is that Fluker is versatile enough to play inside if needed, he is not just a tackle.
D.J. would come in right away and start for the Colts at right tackle if he is selected. He would replace Winston Justice, who I still believe will be re-signed for depth. For the power running scheme that Pep Hamilton mentioned seven times in his press conference, Fluker fits the billing. He is one of the best run-blocking offensive tackles in the entire draft. I would not mind at all if the Colts selected Fluker at 24, he surely fits a gaping hole opposite Anthony Castonzo on the offensive line.
Now we get to Dallas Thomas, a versatile offensive tackle/guard out of Tennessee. He stands at 6'5 and weighs 305 pounds. With that weight, I would think Thomas looks like a left guard on the next level. Thomas is a great pass protector, one of the best at guard. Also, Thomas is a solid run blocker who is versatile enough to pull and lead running backs outside. Dallas has strong hands and the ability to sustain blocks as well.
Thomas is one of the best lineman I have watched film on so far in short yardage situations. He rarely got hurt in college, so he is very durable. Thomas, unlike Fluker, is versatile enough to switch out to tackle. He played tackle his first three seasons at Tennessee, but moved inside to complement the offense.
Also, Thomas is scheme versatile, meaning he can work in both man and zone-blocking schemes. Dallas has big hands as well, a crucial measurement at the upcoming NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis (10 3/8th inches).
The flaws in Thomas' game are few after looking at film. He is a little light for playing tackle (305 pounds), but switching to guard like he did last year will help him on the next level. Thomas needs to build some more strength to be an elite guard. Dallas needs to maintain weight during the season as well. His arms are a little short for a tackle, but for a guard it is good (32 inches).
Here are some highlights below from JPDraftJedi and Mario Clavel on YouTube.
Tennessee vs NC State: Thomas is #71 in orange, lineup up at left guard.
Tennessee vs Alabama: Thomas is #76 in orange, lined up at left guard (used one play at left tackle).
If the Colts were interested in taking Thomas, I would assume the Colts would trade back early into the second round. This also means the Colts get more picks to add on to their other 5 picks, a small amount compared to other teams.
Thomas would be a great fit here in Indianapolis though. He would come in and start right away at left guard. This would mean we can stop worrying about Mike McGlynn getting terrorized on a game-by-game basis. A left side of Castonzo and Thomas is a great young duo to protect Andrew Luck's blindside for years to come.
After all of the analysis, who do you want to advance on to the second round of the tournament? Will it be Fluker or Thomas advancing in the bracket?