Philadelphia Eagles: D.J. Fluker

Two views of Eagles' 2013 draft

January, 24, 2014
Jan 24
4:00
PM ET
PHILADELPHIA -- A couple of respected gentlemen took a look back at the 2013 NFL draft this week. It was interesting to see their different takes on how the Eagles fared.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. regraded the draft after one season and compared it to the grades he issued immediately after the three-day event last April. It’s an ESPN Insider piece. Let’s just say the Eagles got a B-plus from Kiper in April and, one NFC East title and one playoff game later, they got a B-plus again.

“The grade stays high as a pretty good team added key help,” Kiper writes, citing the improvement made by first-round pick Lane Johnson, second-round pick Zach Ertz and third-round pick Bennie Logan.

Johnson started every game at right tackle and played much better in the second half of the season. Ertz emerged as a playmaker at tight end. Logan moved into the starting defensive tackle spot after making veteran Isaac Sopoaga expendable at the trade deadline.

My old pal Don Banks at SI.com took a different approach. Banks ran a redraft of the entire first round based on how the 2013 draft class performed.

Instead of Johnson, Banks had the Eagles taking Alabama’s D.J. Fluker. Banks writes there is “nothing shabby” about the Eagles’ selection of Johnson, but points out that Fluker was an all-rookie team selection for San Diego. The Chargers took Fluker with the 11th overall pick. Banks has Johnson going seventh overall to the Arizona Cardinals in his redo.

The twist: Jeff Stoutland, the Eagles’ first-year offensive line coach, spent the previous two seasons at Alabama. So he knew Fluker as well as anyone.

Given Johnson’s steady improvement and relative lack of inexperience at the position, the former quarterback and defensive lineman still has terrific potential. But Fluker will provide an interesting comparison for as long as both players are in the NFL.
Lane Johnson, the No. 5 pick in 2013, started his first game at right tackle for Philadelphia against Washington in the early Monday night game of Week 1. D.J. Fluker, the 11th pick, got his first start for San Diego against Houston in the late game. He, too, lined up on the right side. Johnson played well enough to help his team get a tough divisional road win, and Fluker learned just how hard it is to win on Sundays (or, in this case, Mondays). Each player had his ups and downs.

Unlike with most teams, the Eagles’ right tackle protects the quarterback’s blind side because QB Michael Vick is left-handed. Johnson handled this awesome responsibility well for the most part. He appeared confused at times and missed a blitz pickup early, but he held his own working against talented Washington OLB Ryan Kerrigan. Johnson took away the edge with his above-average first-step quickness and did an adequate job of holding his ground against speed to power. Although he was disruptive at times, Kerrigan did most of his damage when he worked inside.

As a run-blocker, Johnson didn’t blow anyone off the line. He did, however, ride defenders down the line whether he lined up at right tackle or inside left tackle Jason Peters when Philadelphia went with an unbalanced front. As expected, he also showed good range and did a nice job of getting into position at the second level.

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