Foley, AL -- Foley High product D.J. Fluker was selected in the first round of tonight's NFL draft, at number 11 overall to the San Diego Chargers. The offensive tackle becomes the second Foley product selected in the 1st round in the past two years. Foley's Julio Jones went number six overall two years ago, the prize of a blockbuster trade when the Atlanta Falcons traded up with the Browns from 27th for the pick.
Jones has already established himself as a premier pro wide receiver, now two years into his initial 16 million dollar contract — with over 10 million of that "guaranteed". Fluker's deal will deliver similar compensation, as a number-eleven overall selection.
ESPN football analyst John Gruden says of the Fluker pick by San Diego, "I like the selection."
Fluker has an interesting story. As a hurricane Katrina refugee from his native New Orleans, his family settled first in Mississippi, then in Mobile(AL), prior to landing in Foley for the culmination of his high school career with the Lions. At 6'6" and 330 pounds, his athleticism impressed NFL scouts with his pro workout sessions, and he rocketed up this year's draft chart more rapidly than perhaps any player on "the board".
Foley's most famous NFL product, Ken Stabler, was selected in the second round of the 1968 draft by the Oakland Raiders. He led the Raiders, a perennial playoff contender with Stabler pulling trigger, to their first Super Bowl championship in 1977. He also threw two of the most famous passes in NFL history.
Replacing starter Daryle Lamonica in a '72 playoff game, the Steelers' Franco Harris snatched Stabler's deflected, wildly-careening "Immaculate Reception". The catch is disputed to this day. (no instant-replay in those days)
Stabler also tossed the legendary "Ghost to the Post" to tight end Dave Casper for a late-game-tying score in the '77 playoffs against the Colts. The Raiders won that game in overtime during that magical Super Bowl season.
Stabler was the fastest NFL quarterback to win 100 games as a starter (out of 150 starts), surpassing the record of Johnny Unitas. Only Joe Montana and Tom Brady have since passed that mark for a quicker 100 wins.
Fluker, Jones and Stabler all went on from Foley High to play college ball for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
It was a great year for NFL linemen, with Fluker's choice marking the 6th offensive line star selected in those first 11 picks of this 2013 NFL draft.
Twelve SEC players were selected in the opening round. Fluker's choice represented the third consecutive selection of an Alabama player, the first time in draft history players from the same school were selected back-to-back-to-back in the first round. Cornerback Dee Milner was drafted 9th overall by the Jets. Crimson Tide guard Chance Womack went 10th to the Titans.
'Bama's Eddie Lacy remained undrafted heading into Friday night's second round, but he's not expected to wait too long into the proceedings. Many had Lacy projected as the top running back prospect in the draft. In fact, there were no running backs selected in the first round, a full fifty years since that was the case. Lacy's replacement as Alabama's featured running back is another local product, Daphne's T.J. Yeldon, who already racked up a thousand yard season as a true freshman in his shared running role with Lacy last year.
Perhaps 30 years from now at the local "Mullet Toss" event held this same week (a long-time Stabler staple), we'll be discussing the famous 'nickname' plays of Julio Jones and D.J Fluker. The "Jones Juke" or the "Fluker Flatten"?
Football? Foley? First Round! (and sometimes 2nd round)