Johnson dazzles during awesome pro day display

Updated: March 16, 2007, 10:11 AM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

ATLANTA -- He still isn't likely to be the first player selected overall, but Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson did nothing here Thursday during his "pro day" workout to dispel the notion that he is the premier prospect in this year's NFL draft class.

Calvin Johnson
Kevin Terrell/WireImage.comCalvin Johnson did nothing to depreciate his draft value at the Georgia Tech pro day Thursday.

Auditioning in front of about 75 league scouts and coaches assembled on the Georgia Tech campus, a group that included head coaches Lane Kiffin of the Oakland Raiders and the Washington Redskins' Joe Gibbs, Johnson dazzled the crowd with a rare combination of raw athleticism and polished receiving skills.

"Whatever they wanted to see," said Johnson, "I think I showed them."

And then some.

As expected, Johnson caught the ball well, making effortless grabs on passes thrown by former Yellow Jackets quarterback Damarius Bilbo and prospect Drew McKay of Liberty University.

Several receptions, during a session mostly directed by Detroit Lions scouts and coaches, came on balls that were thrown well outside of Johnson's body frame and for which he had to stretch out.

The 6-foot-5, 239-pound Johnson on Thursday eschewed the 40-yard dash, in which he was clocked at between 4.35-4.39 seconds at the combine workouts in Indianapolis last month. But he turned in sterling efforts of 42½ inches in the vertical jump and 11 feet, 7 inches in the long jump. He had not performed in those events at the combine.

Putting those numbers in some perspective: The best vertical jump by any of the participants at the combine was 41½ inches. And no one at the combine posted a long jump of better than 11 feet.

Said one regional scout from an AFC franchise: "For a guy that size to do the things that he does, and to make it all look so easy ... is amazing."

Johnson, who opted to bypass his final season of eligibility to enter the draft, is projected by most observers to be a top four choice on April 27. In 29 games for the Yellow Jackets, he had 127 receptions for 2,151 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com