top of page

Chargers first round OL picks Zion Johnson, DJ Fluker are a lot alike. Zion has the most pressure

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

The Chargers were and are expecting to make the Super Bowl in 2014 and 2023. Both lineman were and are the pieces they need to get there. But Zion has more pressure even though the Chargers are still hurting for that right tackle.

The Chargers first round draft pick made total sense. Zion Johnson is one the best guards in the draft in a long time. The one person Zion reminds me of, and I hope has better outcome than, DJ Fluker out of Alabama. Fluker was a tackle in the draft, but he did see time at guard in San Diego.

A lot of similarities with those two as far as feet is their footwork foundation in the protection technique. Both have great hands. Both players had and have the luxury of working with future hall of fame quarterbacks.

Both players at draft time were picked up by teams with a tremendous amount of talent.

So, what is the difference of the two?

The bottom line is Fluker did not perform like many thought he would. There was an enormous number of expectations with Fluker. He was one of the best tackles in the history of the University of Alabama and he was much needed by the Chargers.

Pass protection was an issue for Fluker at right tackle. Great punch and when he locked on, he was very good. It looked like the Chargers or Fluker himself fiddled with his stance that made him more efficient in both protections. But injuries were the demise for Fluker in the Chargers organization.

But there are differences between the two. Fluker was a giant recruit out of high school. Johnson was a 0-Star recruit. Neither are athletic juggernauts but the one thing that highlights Johnson for me was to be an unrated high school player, excel at an FCS school known as Davidson College which a triple option offense. Then transfer to a power five school with a double tight end, more pro-style offense at Boston College. And then turnout to be one to top two interior lineman in the entire country.

Zion's film is not flashy or with countless flat backers, but he is one of the more consistent linemen the draft has seen in a few years.

Powerful base, great arms. A very solid pass protecting but is an outstanding interior run lineman.

This Charger team and the offensive talent around him, makes him possible Pro-Bowl right guard after his first year. What could hurt him is Los Angeles’ lack of a solid and dependable right tackle.

The upside for Zion is more than Fluker. A guard is a guard, and Johnson is a guard. The Chargers are one right tackle away from getting two backs one 1,000 yards rushing and or 1,000 yards receiving.

Austin Ekeler is really the only backfield threat the Chargers have. Receiving and running, Ekeler is the best in the league. But they need to be able to have another back that can rush for 800-900 yards.

Rashawn Slater will be perennial Pro Bowler. Johnson will be one as well if the Chargers are able to run the ball better than most.

We are going to see some of another DJ Fluker out of Zion at first. But what we will see is more a Slater at guard than anything. If Justin Herbert has a career season, Eckler has 800 yards receiving, and if they can get 1,800 yards rushing our of Isiah Spiller and Ekeler, Zion will be a Pro Bowler and the Chargers will be a real threat wo win it all.

Pressure is on Zion Johnson like it was on Slater in 2021.

bottom of page