Consistent with his apparent pattern of meddling with football decisions and misunderstanding the way to build a team, according to Don Banks, Arthur Blank has ordered Rich McKay to do everything possible to land Calvin Johnson. In the words of Yoda, this is why you fail. The Falcons have a number of holes throughout the roster, especially on the defensive side of the ball. So what is Arthur Blank's solution? Give up the picks that could be used to fill those holes for a wide receiver. Let's ignore the fact that the Falcons have already spent three first round picks in the Vick years on wide receivers. (Anyone else think that Blank's daddy complex with Vick is at work here?) Let's ignore the fact that the Falcons' big free agent signing this year was a wide receiver. Let's ignore the fact that the team is poorly constructed right now because too much of its cap space is tied up in a few players and thus, the team lacks depth. Let's ignore the fact that the team overpaid for Keith Brooking because he was local and because Blank had taken a shine to him. Let's ignore all of that to make another move that is motivated by star power as opposed to constructing a balanced, deep team that can win games. If Blank is really interested in Johnson because he wants to sell tickets, then he's misreading the market in two important ways. First, Tech's fan base is relatively small. Second, nothing excites a fan base more than winning.
Alternatively, the Falcons provided some misinformation to Banks, possibly to cause Tampa to think that there is more of a market for Detroit's #2 pick and therefore overpay for it. If that's the case and the Falcons are simply trying to screw a divisional rival that their management team actively dislikes, then I'm all for the leak. Good work, men.
And just so we're clear, I think that Calvin Johnson is a fantastic wide receiver. That said, one great receiver can be schemed out of a game by a competent defensive coordinator. (Or you can be Jim Herrmann in East Lansing in 1999, but I digress.) Additionally, with Vick's spotty accuracy, Johnson would be pearls before swine. The way for the Falcons to build, given that they are wedded to Vick because of his enormous bonus, is that they need an above-average running game and defense to compensate for average quarterback play. Vick's contract makes it harder to build a defense and running game, but that makes it doubly important that the Falcons amass a quantity of relatively high picks so they can get cheap, productive play from young players. Acquiring Johnson is inconsistent with that plan because: (1) the Falcons will have to give up the picks that would help them build the rest of the team; and (2) Johnson's big cap figure would further stratify their cap situation.