A.J. Green, WR, Georgia Bulldogs
40-Time: (NFL Scouting Combine Time Feb. 23 - Mar. 1 to be added)
Where to begin? A.J. Green is without a doubt one of the best receivers to come out of college in quite some time. He's perhaps the most talented wide receiver to come out of the collegiate ranks since Calvin Johnson was drafted second overall in 2007.
At 6'4", Green has the height and the leaping ability to come down with any ball. He's done it over and over again at Georgia and he'll do the same in the NFL. Perhaps his biggest strength of all is his hands. Green can catch just about anything provided it's thrown within a five-yard radius. He has big hands and has made catches that baffle and amaze everybody who's around to see them.
He can be a nightmare to cover, especially for teams without a lockdown corner or at the very least a taller corner who can knock down passes thrown his way. He's also extremely agile, which allows him to make up for a rather slim frame when separating from corners or fighting for passes. He may never bulk up or escape his slender frame, but he has the agility to get away with it.
On the speed-front, some will disagree, but he possesses the ability to break away from defenders in the open field despite a 40-time that won't drop any jaws.
It's easy to point out Green's slender frame, but he has the aforementioned agility that will help him tremendously at the next level. Route running could use some work as well, but it's rare that a receiver coming out of college has that part of his game down pat. While it's a weakness heading into the league, the right coaching will help him fine tune that aspect of his game.
Green isn't a burner à la Jacoby Ford, but he has above average speed enough to run away from a lot of cornerbacks in the league, especially in the open field. He'll face defenders faster than him, but it won't stop him from being an impactful receiver at the next level. Too much importance is placed on blazing speed in wide receivers. There's nothing wrong with speed, but it isn't absolutely essential to being a topnotch receiver provided he isn't being outrun by the nose tackle. He may not post the fastest time at the Combine (he was listed at 4.5 by Rivals coming out of high school), but he plays fast and can break away from defenders.
Green's four-game suspension at the beginning of the year stemming from his sale of a game-used jersey will inevitably come up as we approach the draft, but it's not exactly indicative of a flaw in his character. Better judgment would have prevented the problem, but it's hard to say if he was properly educated by the Georgia program regarding NCAA violations. It shouldn't make anybody think twice about drafting him and it certainly doesn't make him a bad kid. He'll have the opportunity to explain the situation during the interview process.
Potential NFL Team, Round
Green is on the shortlist of possible number one overall picks at this point, although there's plenty of time and plenty to do between now and April 28, when the first round kicks off. Picking first, the Carolina Panthers have plenty of needs and could use a talented wide receiver such as Green to grow and develop along with quarterback Jimmy Clausen; that is if they choose to stick with the young quarterback. With needs across the roster, though, and considering wide receivers are rarely taken number one overall, another destination seems likely. The Cincinnati Bengals at pick four is a big possibility considering Chad Ochocinco is 33 years old and Terrell Owens is 37, while the Cleveland Browns could use a playmaker receiver as well to help Colt McCoy.
Danny Hobrock, a sports journalist covering NCAA Football and MLB is the editor of our college football content. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. You may email Danny directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ DannyHobrock
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