2013 NFL Combine: Ignore slow time for D.J. Fluker
Alabama right tackle D.J. Fluker may not be impressive in the measurable drills at the combine, but that won't keep an NFL team from selecting him in the first round.
The lightning-fast 40-yard dash times posted by Arkansas Pine-Bluff's Terron Armstead, among others, will get plenty of buzz but it is important to keep a bit of perspective on a style of sprint no player will ever be asked to make in a game -- especially offensive linemen.
At 6-foot-5 and 339 pounds, Fluker's game is based on power. So, when he was credited with an unofficial 5.32 second time in the 40-yard dash Saturday, scouts were hardly dropping his stock. After all, the Falcons' Sam Baker (5.43), Ravens' Michael Oher (5.34), 49ers' Anthony Davis (5.36) and Browns' Mitchell Schwartz (5.38) all posted similar times over the past five years and yet wound up among the top 37 picks of their respective draft classes. Each has since emerged as a quality starter for his respective NFL team.
Jake Long, the last non-quarterback to be drafted No. 1 overall, was clocked in at 5.22 seconds in 2008.
If there is a concern with Fluker's athleticism it is that he has limited initial quickness and flexibility. Speed rushers will give him problems off the edge. In the running game, however, he is a brutal assignment for defenders as he consistently is able to control the edge with his extraordinary reach (36 3/8 inches) and functional strength, including an explosive initial pop that simply doesn't translate well in the bench press, the only strength drill currently used at the combine. As such, the relatively low 21 repetitions Fluker posted Friday in the bench press won't harm his stock, either.
Assuming teams are satisfied with his medical (he missed the Senior Bowl with a groin pull), Fluker is a rock-solid first round prospect.
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