Monday draft notes: Fluker going early?

April 8th, 2013 | Written by Rob Staton

If you’re hoping the Seahawks draft some kind of swing tackle/guard at #56, the above tweet probably concerns you. Supply might not meet demand.

D.J. Fluker looks on tape to be a pure right tackle or guard. There’s very little evidence he’d be comfortable protecting the blind side. He isn’t great working against the speed rush and those issues will almost certainly translate to the next level. He’s a lunger who’s off-balance, pawing against a quicker defensive end who wins with the initial step. He needs to improve his stance, foot speed and kick-slide. The big positive is he’s a road grader type and if he doesn’t work out at tackle, at least you’re going to get an above average guard.

There is something to be said for that. As Tony Pauline notes, “Most of the decision makers in the Dolphins front office were taught under Bill Parcells, who loved road-grading offensive linemen.”

One thing that does work in his favour is insanely long arms. At nearly 37 inches, Fluker has a greater wingspan than any other highly touted offensive lineman in this class. And it isn’t close. Luke Joeckel’s arms measured just over 34 inches. That to me is the main reason why teams are starting to talk themselves into believing he might be able to play left tackle. That kind of reach is attractive. Perhaps some teams will just be happy to draft him early to play right tackle? I’d never draft a right tackle that early, but I’m not a NFL GM. He is a terrific run blocker and dominated Georgia’s defense in the SEC Championship.

If you can live with Fluker’s issues against speed (I couldn’t, personally… not in the top half of round one) then you can probably convince yourself that he’s worth drafting early. I think he’s a similar prospect to Andre Smith, who remains a free agent after being drafted 6th overall in 2009. Smith is only 26 and had his best year as a pro in 2012. And he can’t find a home. Despite Smith’s size and struggles against speed, he played left tackle for Alabama. Fluker didn’t. But he hasn’t run a hideous shirtless forty yard dash, either.

Smith’s inability to generate a free agent market might be down to existing interest in this years tackle class. Three players — Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson — could be gone by as early as the #5 pick. At the latest they’re probably all gone by #7. Considering the need at tackle stretches to San Diego and Miami at #11 and #12, Fluker could benefit as the next man up. It could be that we have to start considering his floor is Carolina at #14.

If the top four tackles go that early, there’s likely to be another rush long before Seattle picks at #56. Kyle Long, Terron Armstead and Menelik Watson could go earlier than people perhaps expect. It doesn’t leave much to get at in the late second round, unless you’re a big fan of Brennan Williams, Xavier Nixon or Jordan Mills.

Not that this is some huge need that needs to be addressed right now. Breno Giacomini starts at right tackle this year regardless. And he could still be re-signed to a modest extension. So there’s no need to panic.

By the way, speaking of Jordan Mills…

Antoine Winfield update

I’m intrigued to see how this situation plays out. Personally, I still wouldn’t be making any big push for Winfield until after the draft. This is a front office that has consistently managed to unearth talent in the secondary without major investment or turning to ageing veterans. Winfield was good in his day, but he’s still a free agent for a reason.

The return of Jon Gruden

It’s that time of year again. Jon Gruden’s QB camp’s are compulsive viewing during the draft process. The likes of Marcus Lattimore, Luke Joeckel and Manti Te’o are also taking part this year (which isn’t unusual, Earl Thomas met with Gruden in 2010). You can see Geno Smith’s grilling above. They’re fun to watch and Gruden is an engaging personality. Although he gets touted for coaching jobs every year, he has a certain flair for broadcasting. It’s no surprise he hasn’t rushed back to the NFL, or college. Although personally I think he would’ve been a great fit for the San Diego Chargers gig this year.

40 Responses to “Monday draft notes: Fluker going early?”

  1. I don’t see Fluker as a similar player, and Parcells didn’t draft him, but this makes me think about Flozell Adams’ effectiveness as a left tackle. Just by sheer size it was kinda hard to get around him. Kind of a sloppy technician, but such a mauler that he could effectively protect. 37 inch arms could substantially make up for lesser agility, balance and footwork, perhaps? Kind of sounds like a stretch, but I wonder.

    Not that I’m a big Fluker fan. I thought James Carpenter was a better tackle prospect, on account of the feet, and his tackle career is over. Anyway I’m just thinking out loud I guess.

  2. JW says:

    I’ve read a few times that the long arms (and often the accompanying height) that is advantageous at the Tackle positions can actually be a disadvantage at the Guard positions as things get more cramped the player loses leverage. In this light I view the “slow tackle=good guard” formula that sometimes gets adopted with some cynicism.

    At any rate, t’s hard to imagine Miami making this pick at 12. If they really want Fluker, it seems they could trade down 10 picks and still get him. I just can’t see anyone wanting Fluker that badly. Especially at 12, where, (possibly) Warmack is still there, and most likely Cooper, who is actually a guard, and a good one.

    • Rob Staton says:

      In fairness I’m not judging him as a good guard because he’s just a slow tackle. I think he’d be a good guard because on tape it looks like a smart fit.

      • I think it’s very possible that Fluker could have the highest upside of any guard in this class. I’m pretty hesitant at using him at tackle, but if a team is willing to toss him some help in pass pro with a back or tight end, his ability as a run blocker could more than make up for it.

        His upside may be best run blocking tackle in the NFL and slightly below average in pass pro, with a floor as an All Pro guard (heh obviously his floor is dead, but you know what I mean). No one seems to have a problem with Cooper or Warmack in the 12-15 range, and they don’t have that potential flexibility.

        • JW says:

          Rob- yes, I wasn’t implying that you were using that formula, just that I see it a lot by posters here and other places…there’s an assumption that if a guy doesn’t have the athleticism to play tackle that makes him a better guard. This is akin to the baseball defensive position spectrum, in that a average SS is often deemed to be a good second baseman, an average CF=a good left fielder, etc….when in fact there’s a uniqueness to each position that doesn’t automatically translate. One of those traits that is good at Tackle (reach) can be viewed as a handicap at Guard. More of a philosophical note than anything…

          Many had Fluker as a high second round pick a few months ago. I can’t see how that has changed to a 12th overall. I suspect misdirection on Miami’s part, if this is coming from them.

          • JW says:

            case in point- how can you see Fluker as an All Pro guard in the NFL when he hasn’t played the position, and rated higher than Warmack, who has actually played the position and is probably the highest rated Guard in more than a decade? You have to incorporate some risk in the analysis of moving to a new position. And you simply don’t have to do that with Warmack or Cooper (and Cooper is far more athletic than Fluker could ever be, which is important for a guard, too). Putting Fluker ahead of Warmack or Cooper requires an act of faith that one doesn’t need to make with the guys who are actually guards.

          • Sam Jaffe says:

            Baseball? What’s that?

  3. James says:

    If the Seahawks sign Winfield to compete at the nickel CB, then this team truly will be in position to take best available athlete. QB seems the only position unlikely to be selected, for even if they love Matt Scott and then trade him in a couple of years, I doubt they could get more than a R2 pick, since he probably won’t play and showcase his skills. So why use a R2 to pick up a R2? But any other position would be possible. This will be fun. We will truly get to see John do his thing with no constraints of need.

  4. dave crockett says:

    Yeah, I’m a tad nervous about Seattle sniffing around the likes of Winfield before the draft. With a 35-year old corner you really are waiting for the other shoe to drop, even if he was good last year. It’s like, no matter how good he is you’d be a fool not to have a plan B ready to go. Well if you’re gonna do all that you may as well get someone else, unless you just KNOW Winfield is going to be THAT much better than your plan B (likely a rookie). We certainly don’t know that.

    In other words, it’s different than the Broncos going all in on Peyton Manning. If healthy, you KNOW you’re getting superior play. With Winfield you’re uncertain about what kind of quality you’re getting AND concerned about his ability to stay healthy. No thanks. We already have a talented young guy with slot corner skills who can’t stay healthy.

    I’d go to work with the group we have plus a rookie with no concerns really.

    • xo 1 says:

      Unless he gets guaranteed money, I don’t see a cost to signing him – financial or opportunity.

      • xo 1 says:

        And, as I think it through, there is a modest potential benefit. The less the Hawks have to do, the better the odds of adding the best player.

        If there is a run on marginal 2nd round and 3rd round offensive linemen and quarterbacks, the better the chance a first round talent slips to 56. Without studying the issue, my guess is that the players picked at the end of panic run are most likely to wash out.

    • Kip Earlywine says:

      Winfield is in some respects the most telling storyline for the Seahawks this offseason. He’s a guy that is not only 36 in June, but he’s also 5’9″, 180. He pretty much shatters the mold of “the Seahawk CB” in terms of size and age.

      Now, you only need to youtube Antoine Winfield to see that he’s a hell of a football player- he plays with unbelievable physicality for a player his size. Durability is obviously a concern, but as a #3 corner and given Seattle’s depth, there might not be a spot in the NFL that makes more sense for Winfield given that injury risk.

      Winfield had 101 tackles last year. As a corner! That is pure insanity. Normally, tackles are not a good stat if you are a corner (since it hints at being targeted more), but when you are getting tackle totals that high it’s really obvious that he’s making plays away from his assignments. In his fully healthy years he’s had tackle totals of 101, 91, 95, 97, 98, 107, and 80. This guy is a tackle machine… at CB.

      And after looking it up on pro-football focus, it appears my instincts were correct. Last season, at age 35, Winfield ranked #1 in the NFL for run stopping among corners, and did not allow a single touchdown in the passing game. He was such a good player that when the Vikings released him last month to get out of his $7.25 million salary, rotoworld described the move as “questionable.” It’s not often you hear that about a 36 year old who’s slated to earn that kind of cash.

      Anyone with concerns over Winfield should watch this video:

      Yes, it is a highlight video and not a scouting tool, but even from this you can see the physicality, the closing ability, and the tackling ability which are all extremely impressive for any player, especially one well into his 30s.

      If he’s still on that level, and the statistics indicate he has an excellent chance to be for at least one more season, I think Seattle would be a little crazy not to sign him to a cheap 1 year deal. They can still draft a corner too. If Seattle wants, they could release Winfield in the final round of cuts and it would be as if they never signed him cap wise. I see it as an upgrade at best and a smart insurance policy at worst.

      Winfield is still a free agent and yes it is because of his age, but it appears he could be a similar story to London Fletcher. Rarely, great players will remain great past age 35. Upon hearing the news of Winfield drawing interest and a visit to Seattle, the Vikings are now making a strong push to get him back and the Redskins are ratcheting up their efforts to woo him as well.

      • Robert says:

        I think Winfield would be a great addition to the Legion of Boom! The way he locks on to targets and launches himself like a missile to blowup ball carriers reminded me of the Shamarko Thomas video you shared a week ago. When Lane filled in for the suspended Browner last year, I was impressed with his coverage skills and speed, especially that extra speed he can summon when the ball is in the air and he needs to make up a few extra steps. But I was very concerned with his lite tackling. Winfield’s tackling skills would serve as a clinic for all our young defenders, most of whom are all pretty good tacklers already. He looks impressive in coverage, as well…

  5. williambryan says:

    Whoever gets Geno Smith should feel pretty good about it. He came across really well in the Gruden episode in my opinion.

    • Sam Jaffe says:

      I agree. I’m sure these guys are coached up in how to respond to Gruden, but he came across as sincere and professional. He looks like he’s been studying tape since he was 10 years old. My biggest concern with him is the second half of the season–He didn’t answer Gruden’s question about that with any specifics about what went wrong. It’s also fascinating to watch the Tavon Austin plays where he’s moving at lightning speed laterally across the O Line before the snap. He’s moving so fast that a regular hand-off would slow him down, hence the shove pass that they developed for that situation. We’ll be seeing Percy Harvin doing that a lot next year.

    • A. Simmons says:

      Russell Wilson was a lot more impressive. I haven’t seen a QB with Wilson’s charisma on Gruden’s camp ever.

  6. woofu says:

    Just heard it is down to Matt L. or Quinn. We’ll see.

  7. CHawk Talker Eric says:

    SEA signs Brett Swain? Oh-kay.

    • Madmark says:

      I just have to throw this out there for Kip. Your article about I would hate to go thru this draft without getting one of these guys. Ryan Swope and John Simon, It made me go back and look at tape on Swope because I remember seeing him all the time watching tape on Tannehill and I really wanted this guy. Then Seattle got Harvin and now with this signing I’ve lost faith we would get him now. John Simon is a possibility but with Avirel, Bennet, Irving, and the good news on Clemens rehabilitation I don’t think that’s going to happen either
      Sorry Kip, I was with you all the way.

      • CHawk Talker Eric says:

        Kinda what I was thinking a la WR (and my hopes for Swope). Swain is another 6′ 200lb wideout. Don’t need any more of those I guess.

        • JW says:

          this is interesting to me. What’s the the actual difference if you have 3 WR’s who are good players…does it really matter that they are 6′-ish? I don’t really see it. I get that it’s nice to have a slot and and tall guy, but…if he can play, he can play.

          • CHawk Talker Eric says:

            Fair enough JW. Size in and of itself doesn’t mean everything. But size generally correlates with ability – a tall WR has a large catching radius, a shorter WR has greater agility, etc. That’s not always true, but then nothing is ever always true.

            As for Swain and if he can play, he can play…well the guy has a grand total of 8 receptions out of 17 targets for 31 yards in 4 seasons. SEA already has eight WRs roughly the same size (+/- 2 inches/20lbs), and some pretty good ones at that. In fact, we already have 3 WRs who are around 6′ and are good players – Harvin, Tate, and Baldwin.

      • Kip Earlywine says:

        Yup, doesn’t look likely. I’m at peace with it, there are many players I like this year, those were just my two favorites.

    • Robert says:

      A real head scratcher from my vantage point. He is not big or fast. And he has miniscule production during his 4 seasons in the NFL. Maybe they are paying him to cough up intelligence and reveal some of the 49ers diabolical schemes…

    • Madmark says:

      I still think they try to draft someone like Mark Harrison in the 7th since he 6’3″ and 235lbs and give him a shot at 6th receiver spot.

  8. G.C says:

    So does that mean the Dolphins are planning on moving Jonathan Martin over to left tackle? Did no one in that organization watch their game against the Niners? Or this

    Good Luck.

    • CHawk Talker Eric says:

      According to Tony Pauline at

      “Sources tell me the Dolphins will be “drafting big” (as in players) this year and at present time the team seems confident Jonathan Martin can hold down the left tackle spot. Unless they acquire one of the top pass blocking left tackles in the draft, they will look for a mauler on the right side.”

  9. Andrew G says:

    I have been waiting to see if you were going to talk about Jeff Tuel. He has the requisite speed that Seattle seems to like and is pretty mobile. I am definitely not a scout or a scout-nik or the distant cousin of a scout but I remember him shredding the Pac-10 before getting injured. Maybe spend one of our 4 7th rounders on him?

    • Rob Staton says:

      I’m not sure they’d need to, Andrew, in fairness. I’m not overly optimistic about his chances of getting a shot in the NFL.

    • There are probably 40 quarterbacks I’d talk about before getting to Jeff Tuel. So I wouldn’t hold your breath. He’s more likely to be drafted by the Seahawks than I am to write about him before April 30th.