Pros: At 6’4” and 200-plus pounds A.J. Green is about to enter his junior season as Georgia’s main offensive threat. Green is almost impossible to cover one-on-one as his short-area burst, height and leaping ability are simply too much for one defensive back to handle. Green might not have the elite top-end speed many are expecting him to have (4.3); it is clearly more than functional as we believe it to be in the 4.4-range. He shows exceptional ability at finding soft spots in zone coverage and even when he is engaged in tight coverage, Green’s impressive frame, leaping ability, aggressiveness and mid-air acrobatics allow him to come down with jump balls. A one-time state champ on the hardwood, this Bulldog knows how to box out defenders. Green’s extreme athleticism makes him perhaps college football’s most natural catcher of difficult passes since Calvin Johnson. In other words, Green’s window to catch the ball is huge. He isn’t just tall; he has spider-man-long arms and legs that give him an almost springy bounce to his run and seemingly endless reach. The junior wide out also has big, soft hands and is capable of making catches in stride and over his shoulder. He is difficult to jam at the line of scrimmage as his arms and quickness prevent opposing corners from getting their hands into his chest. Green also has great pro-style experience in terms of coaching, scheme and quarterback play. He can also make an impact on special teams, which he displayed last season by blocking a fourth quarter field goal attempt in a tie game.
Cons: The junior receiver is thin and will need to bulk up before he moves on to the NFL. Even at the college level Green hasn’t been much of a threat for yards after contact. Not only does Green lack the strength and bulk to break tackles, he often doesn’t try, instead choosing to slide to the turf or dart for the sideline. His lack of prototypical bulk (215-220 pounds for his frame) could also lead to durability concerns—the Bulldog pass catcher missed three games as a sophomore due to injury. Green missed one game after he suffered a bruised lung/injured rib and then two more with a shoulder injury to end the regular season before he returned for the Independence Bowl. At his current weight and strength Green will have a limited route tree in the NFL; it remains to be seen whether or not he can take the pounding associated with going over the middle.
Our View: Even the top defenses in the SEC (Florida, Alabama, Tennessee) weren’t able to slow down the South Carolina native, which is why he may be the most dangerous offensive weapon in college football heading into the 2010 season. While Green has to get stronger and heavier, he is still an elite prospect entering his junior season. Green has almost everything that scouts look for: height, hands, pro-style experience and athleticism. Few players in the NFL currently combine Green’s height and agility and as such he has the potential to develop into a scheme-busting #1 wide receiver. If Green continues to progress and has a productive, healthy junior season, he’s a lock for the top-15 in 2011 and could very well crack the top five. His numbers dipped slightly in 2009 (53 receptions, 808 yards, six touchdown receptions, 15.2 YPC)) from his true freshman season (56 receptions, 963 yards, eight touchdown receptions, 17.2 YPC) when Matthew Stafford was throwing him the pigskin. Whether or not the first team All-SEC performer contends for All-America honors and the Biletnikoff Award (he was one of ten semifinalists in 2009) will depend on the quarterback play at Georgia, which appears to be in flux heading into the 2010 campaign."
Speed: A long, loping gait gives Green above-average speed. His wheels are sufficient to create separation down the field against most cornerbacks, but it is worth watching whether consistently going up against Cornerbacks faster than himself will affect Green. Likely will run better than his 40 time indicates. 7.5
Jumping/Body Control: Very solid. Green shows the willingness and ability to go up for any ball remotely within his vicinity -- and more often than not, corral it, get to the ground within the boundaries and hold on. His leaping ability is superb and he will test very well in that regard. He has no trouble adjusting to a poorly thrown ball. 9
Hands: Sensational. He's shown an ability to come down with catches few have the ability to make. Green's hands allow QBs an added element, as the trust they have in his skills lead to a willingness to throw risky passes and know probability is on his side. An occasional lack of focus leads to drops but is not a major issue. 9.5
Route Running: Green's most oft-cited detraction. While he's an intelligent kid and a hard, willing worker, he carries a reputation as a player who's too talented for his own good and will occasionally improvise routes without the quarterback's prior knowledge. I will say that while watching Green, I found his routes to be well-run, but don't know what was going on in the huddle prior to playcalls. It seems like if this is an issue, it's one which will be less glaring at the NFL level. 7
Strength/Size: Green's as big as one can reasonably expect a receiver to be without assuming he's
A) Slow or
B) A generational talent.
He uses his size very well and passers are very aware of his prodigious frame when deciding whether to throw a questionable pass his way. He's a nightmare matchup for most teams, as a player who will draw many high passes and jump balls and thus requires a tall CB be draped on him at all times. Green has a little room for added bulk in his frame, as he's currently just a shade north of the threshold for "skinny." He doesn't use his bulk very well at this point, but hasn't necessarily needed to, relying mostly on elusiveness and speed after the catch. 9
Vision: Above-average. Green is akin to a running back in the open field and does a great job of anticipating defenders' tendencies and taking great angles to beat them. Does a fantastic job of staying inbounds when necessary and very rarely sacrifices yardage by going backwards. 8
Conclusion: Green is almost certainly a top-five pick if he declares for the 2011 draft -- something many analysts see as a foregone conclusion. He's absolutely loved at UGA, but can't gain much draft positioning by staying in school. He's been extremely productive at every point of his career, putting up historic numbers in High School and absolutely stellar stat lines in college. Green should be able to contribute in the NFL fairly quickly and projects to have a long career as a #1 receiver. He's currently the #1 receiver on my board, edging out Julio Jones.
I'm not a fan of comparisons and think in most cases, they're forced and don't fit well. However, the most natural comp for Green is Larry Fitzgerald."
Negatives: Has a bit of a thin frame, would be to his advantage to gain 10-15 lbs. of bulk before post season workouts... Average route runner, rounds off some of his cuts... Can get lazy, doesn't always come back towards the football... Below average run blocker... Had a small shoulder injury in 2009... Was suspended for four games this year due to selling his jersey to someone who qualified as an agent."
Green was suspended for the first four games this season due to selling a game-worn jersey, but in his first game back he promptly exploded for seven catches, 119 yards, and two touchdowns. He also rushed one time for 40 yards. Green is a playmaker who can do anything with the football. He is NFL-ready right now, and if he adds more muscle he could be a Pro Bowl performer sooner rather than later. He looks like the best receiver in the 2011 class assuming he comes out early, which he almost certainly will. Anything lower than a Top 5 overall selection in the upcoming draft would be a surprise."
He has exceptional body control and hand-eye coordination and is surprisingly crafty. He can step into a starting lineup and factor as a No. 1 receiver readily, capable of taking the top off a defense and creating big plays. He's a top-10 cinch."
Mind you, my admonition holds steady: There is NO Wide Out I would draft in the first 2 Rounds. But that doesn't change the fact that AJ Green is just an amazing Wide Receiver, and could have a spectacular career.
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