Carolina’s Dilemma: Picking First In A Weak Draft

Written by Ryan Lownes on February 2, 2011


 

 

It’s not very often that a receiver comes along that is as smooth, dynamic, and as long as A.J. Green. After coming to Georgia as a highly touted recruit, Green paired with 2009 1st Overall pick Matthew Stafford to form an electric 1-2 combination. The Bulldogs weren’t shy using him as a freshman as he was featured in the deep, vertical passing game, across the middle of the field, and working the sidelines beyond the sticks. Though he came to school a bit raw, Green has obviously worked hard to become a crisp route-runner. He’s developed moves to beat the jam and he shows the elusiveness after the catch needed to create big plays from next to nothing.

 

What makes A.J. Green a truly special prospect is his incredible catching radius, which ranked second to none at the college level. Green is sudden, he’s fluid, and he’s gifted in jump-ball situations, but where he really shocks you is the type of plays he can make away from his body. Simply put, if you put the ball in his zip code he’s going to come down with it. He shows exceptional hands, body-control, and awareness all packaged with tremendous natural length at 6’4. Coming into college, Green was a bit slight in stature but it looks as if he’s made efforts to add muscle mass and I wouldn’t be shocked if he weighed in around 215 by the Combine.

 

This season he was once again without much in terms of a supporting cast in Georgia’s offense. Freshman Quarterback Aaron Murray played admirably, but Green’s numbers would have looked absolutely gaudy had he gotten to play with him two years from now. He is the most proven receiver in the class with an extreme amount of talents and very little weakness as a player. It’s not likely that A.J. Green will get past Cincinnati at 4th Overall.

 

Pros

+ Catching radius is incredible; can catch anything in his area & above his head
+ Can make any play; goes vertical, across the middle, works the sideline
+ Extremely fluid; moves very smoothly, gets in and out of breaks well
+ Top body control in the air and on the sideline
+ Shows excellent awareness; very aware in the air, of defensive backs, and of his position on the field
+ Tall (6’4) and long-limbed
+ Elite deep threat; will always be a weapon over the top
+ Great concentration, tracks the ball into his hands
+ Good leaper with long arms; can really climb the ladder to bring a ball down
+ Very fast for his size; long-legged, creates separation & isn’t caught from behind
+ Elusive after the catch; can make the first defender miss and spring plays
+ Beats the jam with moves, hands, and suddenness
+ Good understanding of the game; finds soft spots in the defense
+ Makes tough plays in traffic, will come down with contested balls
+ A matchup nightmare, has given Patrick Peterson all he can handle
+ Greatly improved route runner with experience in an NFL-style offense
+ Runs hard with the ball in his hands and is tough to bring down
+ Very dedicated, competitive, & smart with a desire to be the best
+ Good effort, always plays hard and is a wiling run-blocker
+ Impressive college production against SEC competition

 

Cons

- Slightly over-aged, will be a 23 year old rookie
– Needs to continue to add muscle to his frame
– Missed four games in 10’ due to suspension
– Leaving college without putting up 1,000 yards or 10 Td’s once
– Would benefit from more reps crossing the middle of the field
– Slight injury history: hurt shoulder in 09’. Missed three games
– May not be blessed with sprinter’s speed, needs to continue to develop his complete game

 

Why the Panthers will select A.J. Green First Overall

Carolina went and used their first pick last season (51st Overall) on Quarterback Jimmy Clausen. Though he struggled in 2010, it was apparent the team was receiving lackluster play from the Wide Receiver position. Steve Smith may not be washed up, but he’s far from a #1 receiver and his future with the team may be in jeopardy. A.J. Green may very well be the best prospect in this draft class and as close to a sure thing as you’ll have. If the team chooses to go forward with Clausen, they’ll want to do everything possible to help the young signal-caller. Green is a future top-tier receiver in the NFL and gives the Panthers a #1 target for the next decade.

 

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Ryan Lownes

Ryan is currently an undergraduate student at Ohio University pursuing a degree in Sport Management. He has been attending the NFL Draft in New York City since 2005 and has aspirations of a career in scouting. He is currently a draft writer and analyst on the Draft Breakdown team, posting his latest rankings, mock drafts, scouting reports, and more. Be sure to follow Ryan on twitter for year-round NFL Draft analysis. See all posts by Ryan Lownes.