While the Miami Dolphins seem committed to giving Austin Jackson an opportunity this upcoming season, it never hurts to have depth at tackle (as any Dolphins fan can tell you). DJ Fluker began to make noise on social media a couple of weeks ago when it was revealed that he had cut down to 330 lbs and was in the best shape of his career. He went on to participate in Alabama’s pro day and impressed those in attendance.
The Miami Dolphins are looking for offensive line help for Tua Tagovailoa pic.twitter.com/0SMJkO9lIo— Touchdown Alabama (@TDAlabamaMag) March 23, 2023
Per usual, several Dolphins fans jumped at the idea of adding Fluker. As I’m sure the Dolphin’s front office has done, it’s worth looking at this possibility from all angles. First of all, Fluker hasn’t played a regular-season snap since the 2020 season. The Dolphins added him to the roster the following offseason, only to release him with an injury settlement prior to the beginning of the 2021 season.
What Player is Fluker in 2023?
It’s worth looking at this most recent in-game action to see what fans could expect to see from the former first round selection. Luckily, I did that back in 2021...
Fluker had always been a bigger tackle that was a better run blocker than pass blocker... you know, the road grader type. This had seemed to only become more pronounced later in his career.
If it were 2001 instead of 2021, DJ Fluker would have been one of the more impactful offseason acquisitions for the Miami Dolphins. Can effortlessly move guys in the run game.— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) May 25, 2021
Still a good depth signing and he could compete for reps at guard. #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/9JVrsqD9r1
Baltimore (his most recent team) ran a very unique offense that tends to be centered around things Lamar Jackson does well. That means a lot of running the football, play action, roll outs etc... and a lower percentage of standard drop backs. In an offense like this, Fluker did well.
No offense protects their tackles better than Baltimore-boot action, RPO, play action-but DJ Fluker struggled in his few true pass sets last year. He's a good depth signing, but it wouldn't be wise to go into 2021 with him at RT.— George Forder (@GeorgeForder3) April 28, 2021
Offensive Tackle isn't a luxury, it's a need. pic.twitter.com/OEXCHkehq6
When he was asked to block more athletic edge players on standard drop backs, he struggled. He could have been dealing with lingering health problems at that point in his career, but he looked like he was stuck in mud at times.
What Makes it Intriguing?
Well, he looks like he’s gotten himself into phenomenal shape while still being plenty big enough to play offensive line at the highest level. That isn’t an easy thing to do, especially when you’ve been away from the game for a few years. Sure feels like he wants to prove something and those are never bad guys to take a shot on.
It’s also intriguing because his biggest issue the last time he played was movement. He clearly struggled to stick with these quicker/faster edge players. After trimming down, that looked much better at Alabama’s pro day. If that part of his game is at least average, he could be a solid starting tackle based off what he put on tape during the 2020 season.
Everybody said they want to be beast till it time to be one. Lock the gate we here for 60!! Pride discipline effort toughness commitment!!. pic.twitter.com/DnB2eK1ozG— DJ Fluker TheWarrior (@DJTheWarrior76) March 31, 2023
What Should Miami do?
It would make sense to see Fluker get a shot somewhere this season. Even if he just ends up as a camp body, it would be shocking to see him not get that opportunity. Right tackle has plagued the Dolphins ever since Ja’Wuan James left in free agency. Assuming he’s only looking for a minimum (or close to it) contract, what would it hurt to bring him in and give him that shot to compete?