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Joe Gibbs at Georgia Tech Pro Day

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There is no doubt that Calvin Johnson is a phenomenal talent, perhaps a once in a decade/lifetime/whatever-temporal-cliche-you-want talent. But the Redskins simply have more pressing needs at other positions to make an aggressive pursuit of Johnson possible.

All that said, we still want to get a look at the guy. Per Atlanta Journal Constitution with a hat tip to Ben Maller:

WR Calvin Johnson and other former teammates took part in Georgia Tech Pro Day. Among those in attendance was Oakland Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin, holder of the No. 1 pick in April's NFL draft. Johnson noticed that Kiffin was in the crowd of logoed golf shirts, stop watches and clip boards. "He's a great guy, I met him at the [NFL scouting] combine," Johnson said. "I talked to him out here a little bit. It's always good talking to those guys." Johnson is rated as the top talent in the draft, but the Raiders may opt for LSU quarterback JeMarcus Russell, whom Kiffin watched in Baton Rouge on Wednesday. Washington Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs was also on hand.
The only way to get Johnson would be to trade up, as he isn't going to fall to #6. And the only way to trade up is to either give up picks, that we don't have, or players, that we need. I think Joe Gibbs and the Washington Redskins are doing precisely what reasonable minds should expect. They're covering all bases and generating a perception that the Redskins are interested to improve their hand come draft day.

Consider this scenario. Calvin Johnson falls to 4 (don't think it will happen, but it's possible) but Tampa Bay trades down with another team that has eyes for a Brady Quinn (don't think this will happen, but it's possible). The Cardinals have Boldin and Fitzgerald and go a different direction with that pick if they don't trade down. Now the Redskins have a shot at Johnson. The Vikings refuse to give us a call because they think we're destined to pick a DE because we haven't even been to the Georgia Tech pro day. We're robbed of a potential trading partner in Minnesota who might just pay top dollar to us for a relatively inconsequential move from our perspective -- #6 -> #7 and we still get the position we want.

Is all of this incredibly unlikely? Of course, but what do you lose by looking at Calvin Johnson? The draft is all a perception game and teams are going to aggressively pursue trades based on where they think a guy will fall. If Minnesota, or anyone else, feels that Calvin Johnson isn't even generating a peek out of the Redskins staff, then they can effectively ignore our spot. If Johnson fell to #6 (which he won't) teams might be more inclined to approach Minnesota for a trade over us as that would be the cheaper alternative.

I mention all this because earlier in the week a stink was made about Dan Snyder wanting JeMarcus Russell (which I think is absurd). Admittedly we were at LSU looking at players. But why wouldn't we generate rumors about being interested in Russell? How can that possibly harm us? Similar story for Calvin Johnson. That Joe Gibbs is at the Georgie Tech Pro Day should not be treated as evidence that we'd select CJ at #6.

Whether or not we take him at that spot is the source of much debate. If I hadn't made my own feelings clearer above, I'll state them explicitly: Calvin Johnson is worth far more to the Washington Redskins in a trade than he is as a player on this franchise given our needs at other positions. While I admit that Johnson would make our offense immediately better, of all the positions on this team WR is one of the few I'm concerned about. Defensive line gives me fits. Even with the addition of Smoot, I still think we're an injury away from (perhaps) an unreliable secondary. Our O-line is ageing and a clear starter to replace Derrick Dockery has yet to emerge. I'm happy with our LB unit in '07, but what about '08? And on and on and on...

That's going to get me ripped by a lot of Redskins fans, and fans of Football in general, who are enamored of Calvin Johnson. Hell I can't blame them; the guy is sick good and about as good a CFB player as I've seen.