DJ Fluker — a “reach”? Why Basketball Writers Shouldn’t Cover the NFL Draft

I looked up Matt Calkins’ Linkedin profile.  He so deftly and confidently pointed out that Chargers’ “reached” in picking D.J. Fluker Thursday night, I was sure I would find out that Calkins was a scout in his life before sportswriting for the Union-Tribune.  And there it was on his Linkin page, right there below “Sports Columnist/Features Writer at The San Diego Union-Tribune”…. no, wait, that was a sportswriting job at “The Columbian.”  Covering the Portland Trailblazers.  (That’s a basketball team.)  I looked down the page a bit further, and there was the scouting background that surfaced in the pages of the U-T this morning– no, wait, that was a sportswriting gig, too.

But surely, even if Calkins never attained the League’s seal of approval as a talent-evaluater — Lord knows, that’s no guarantee of success in the field — he would ground his opinion in some kind of evidence: film study, consulting industry insiders, or the like.  Nope. Turns out, to borrow Calkins’ misplaced baseball analogy, I strike out there, too.

Calkins criticizes Telesco’s first pick as Chargers’ GM because mock drafts had Fluker going lower.

You know what reporters used to do if they were unfamiliar with a subject?  (Say, for example, a basketball beat writer commenting on football…)  They would research the issue.  And I don’t mean adopting some other journalist’s opinion wholesale.

D.J. Fluker is the best run-blocking player I watched leading up to this draft.  He played a pivotal role in the complete annihilation of the best defense in college football in the BCS Championship.  Zone blocking teams don’t succeed to extent Alabama has — as Manti Te’o quickly learned — if their linemen can’t get to the second level.  So Fluker has some agility to him, too.  The Chargers must have players like Fluker if they will ever run the ball again like they did under Marty.

I guarantee many — if not all — war rooms in the League recognized the incredible skill set Fluker offered.  He was a lock to go in the top half of the first round, whether the Chargers took him or not.

Calkins’ problem is he listens to idiots who thought more than 11 teams would pass on that type of talent.

Only a U-T sportswriter would call an offensive tackle this mammoth a "reach."

Only a U-T sportswriter would call an offensive tackle this mammoth a “reach.”

Does Fluker jump out on edge rushers like Jonathan Ogden did?  No, and he never will.  But Telesco sounded committed to maximizing the incredible skills Fluker does possess.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Fluker bumps inside to guard — and develops into an all-pro there.  What Telesco and the coaches won’t do is try to fit a round peg into a square hole.

Like assigning a basketball writer to critique the NFL Draft.


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