Now I'm going to get hate mail from Georgia fans...and that's OK. I love the passion of football fans; it's great to "debate" individual football players skills. Before you do send the hate mail, please read the case I'm about to make -- and keep in mind that it is not a report where I think that A.J. Green is going to be necessarily bad in the NFL (although I think there is a risk of that), the problem is that I think he is going to be drafted way ahead of where he should be. It is going to be a bad decision for an NFL franchise to use their resources in such a way.
High Draft pick WRs, we've statistically debated; have been a terrible investment for an NFL business/team. If you're going to make a huge investment in a WR, you had better get (you would assume) an absolutely elite, "never been seen before", top-of-the class type WR...and that's not A.J. Green. There are actually (to us) 2-3 compelling, potentially elite type WRs in the 2011 NFL Draft...it's just that A.J. Green is not one of them. *to see more on the case of why high draft pick WRs have been such poor NFL decisions, please see additional research on that -- NFL Draft 2011 - Why are you so sure Julio Jones and A.J. Green are NFL "Locks"? A Look at the Comedy that is WR Draft Picks in the NFL - Fantasy Football 2011
The fact that there are so many other intriguing, better skilled WRs than A.J. Green is the exact reason why we call this the worst business decision an NFL team is going to make (on the assumption Green is taken in the first 15 picks). Instead of rattling off which WRs might be better, I'm just going to look at why A.J. Green is "nothing special" in elite NFL WR terms.
Stop and think for a second on why you might have considered A.J. Green a future elite NFL WR. Really...think about it for a second. For most non-NFL scouts/general "fans" -- there are only 2 possible answers to that question:
You've seen A.J. Green, and you think he is "awesome".
Everyone (media, Draft gurus) has been saying that Julio Jones and A.J Green are the hands down elite of the WR class, and "they" must know what they are doing. Nothing wrong with that, we outsource everything in America -- you don't have the time and wherewithal to have a scouting department in your living room. You trust the draft guides and TV shows, and it seemingly makes sense....and I used to do that too. Until I realized the Draft Gurus and the "bad" NFL teams, have a horrific track record on drafting WRs in the Top-15, actually there is a horrific track record on the first 3 WRs taken in every draft; no matter where the top-3 WRs are taken.
If you've seen A.J. Green, and your argument is "he is awesome". You might as well turn away now, no matter what I say -- it's probably not going to change your opinion, and you are going to hate me. If you arrived at your A.J. Green opinion via the media mega-hype, please read (this is our second hint) our article "Why are you so sure Julio Jones and A.J. Green are NFL "Locks?"; and then complete the rest of this article.
What is so special about A.J. Green?
What would make A.J. Green so special (or any WR)? What are some things that come to mind? For me it would be -- unbelievable size and reach (like Randy Moss or Calvin Johnson), or unbelievable speed (like Calvin Johnson, or Randy Moss, or Mike Wallace) , or unbelievable hands (like Larry Fitzgerald), or an unusual combination of strength and speed (like Hakeem Nicks or Vincent Jackson). The fact of the matter is, this NFL Draft has a couple WRs with some nice/elite individual physical characteristics, but A.J. Green is not one of them. Let's start to pick the skills of A.J. Green apart (again, not to say that Green is bad...just not elite or revolutionary).
Faster than a speed in bullet?
Looking at A.J. Green's speed metrics:
Green ran the 5th fastest 40-yard dash of the 2011 of the 15 "Big WRs" (Big = 6'0+ and 205+, or 6'2+ no matter weight) we are mainly focusing on as NFL prospects. He ran a very good, historically not great, 4.48 40-yard dash.
Green was tied for 4th best (of 15 "Big WRs") in the 20-yard dash
Green was 7th of 15 in the 10-yard dash among our "Big WRs"
8 of our 15 "Big WRs" ran the 3-cone agility/speed drill faster than A.J Green
6 of our 15 "Big WRs" ran the shuttle agility drill faster than A.J. Green
Green is not the "top dog" among our "big WRs" in any speed or agility metrics, he is not even a Top-3 in any particular area. I'm not selling you on incredible speed being critically important for a "Big WR" (because actually it is not, per say), I'm just saying anyone who says Green is a Top-15 pick because of how fast he is, hasn't done their homework. Green has decent and OK agility relative the "Big WR" group, but nothing special about his speed and agility. *If you send an email to me telling me I'm crazy and it has the phrase "game speed" in it...please save time and don't send it. Green is not any faster than anyone else in this draft, not really even close to it...and that's a fact. He's not slow, just not elite WR fast.
Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound?
Something I like to look at is a WR's vertical leap measurement, because there is some statistical correlation to it looking ahead at college-to-NFL performance. I personally think it shows athleticism as well, but more importantly the historical data shows some positive/negative correlations. A.J. Green did not record a great vertical leap on a historical comparison, nor very good in the perspective of the fact that 8 other of our "Big WRs" measured a vertical leap that was better than Green's.
Maybe you retort -- "but he's 6'3+, he doesn't have to leap!". Measuring 6'3 is a great attribute, but there are 4 other (of our 15) "Big WRs" that are as tall as or taller than Green -- and 2 of those 4 WRs are faster, more agile and overall more athletic. A.J. Green is not special in height, speed, or vertical among this year's WR class or historically among WRs...but again, he is good; just not Top-15 overall selection great -- in a physical sense.
A.J Green also had a decent bench press for a WR, but considering that 5 other "Big WRs" had better bench press results...again Green comes up as nice; but not elite on WR strength either.
..."All that physical stuff, doesn't matter...because, he can just make plays"!
I know, you've seen him make some great catches...probably for most of us, we saw the great plays on an ESPN News highlight reel as we were busy watching another team...or we are fed the same 2-3 catch highlight "loop" played on NFL Draft analysis shows. Can we really make a judgment that A.J. Green is the best WR in the NFL Draft from a few highlights? Is A.J Green the only WR in college football that made great plays in 2010? For some perspective, let's look at some basic 2010 season statistics for a few other top "Big WRs" on most everyone's Draft Board (Torrey Smith and Randall Cobb are "small WRs" in our system):
Receptions per game:
- 6.4 = Jones, Ala (minus the Ole Miss game)
- 6.3 = Green, Ga
- 5.5 = Hankerson, Mia, Fla
- 4.3 = Baldwin, Pitt
- 3.4 = Toliver, LSU
Yards per catch:
- 16.1 = Hankerson, Mia, Fla
- 15.5 = Baldwin, Pitt
- 14.9 = Green, Ga
- 14.5 = Jones, Ala
- 14.1 = Toliver, LSU
TDs per game:
- 1.0 = Hankerson, Mia, Fla
- 1.0 = Green, Ga
- 0.6 = Jones, Ala
- 0.4 = Baldwin, Pitt
- 0.4 = Toliver, LSU
Yards per game:
- 94.2 = Green, Ga
- 93.8 = Jones, Ala
- 88.9 = Hankerson, Mia, Fla
- 63.2 = Baldwin, Pitt
- 44.5 = Toliver, LSU
A.J. Green is ranked #1 in two of the above performance categories (actually tied for 1st in one of them), and in the Top-3 in all of them...but so is Leonard Hankerson. Why isn't Leonard Hankerson a Top-15 WR, purely looking at 2010 performance? If you stare down these statistics, you really can't say that Jones or Green (or Hankerson) are that much better than each other...or if you take it another way, there may be 3 very good WRs in the 2011 Big WR group -- a supply/demand issue that makes a "good" WR not as valuable to take with a high draft pick.
A.J. Green grades out well on his actual performance metrics (and so do many others as you see above). Green's college performance is comparable to a lot of future good/great NFL WRs. However, when I filter the list of current NFL WRs who have graded out above average in all key performance metrics -- A.J. Green has something (bad) in common with the ones on the list who graded high on college performance, but ultimately didn't translate as well to the NFL...the issue is "Hand Size". A.J Green has a below average hand-size, and that may not seem like a big issue; but it potentially is. Most all the future elite WRs did not have near the smaller hand-size measurement that A.J. Green does, but many future mediocre WRs did. The hand-size issue could definitely come into play if drafted by a cold weather franchise.
Take a ruler, spread your fingers out as best you can -- and measure from tip of your thumb to the tip of your pinky. Then consider that A.J. Green's hand-size measurement was 9.2", and typically the more translatable WRs to the NFL are longer than that. Not a 100% rule -- but the odds are stacked against the nice college performance, but smaller hands WR.
NFL WRs that best matches A.J. Green in our system:
Looking for a match for A.J. Green led us to search the system for "Big WRs" that had very good (not great or awesome) performance metrics across the board, plus a little on the mediocre side for speed/agility...as well as WRs with a smaller hand size and smaller in weight/frame. Sidney Rice is a decent match, as is Eric Decker -- both are taller, smaller hand, not overly fast or agile, and very good WRs in college. I like both Rice and Decker, they are just not "elite"; and neither were selected in the first round/in the first 15 picks of the draft. Rice was a 2nd Round selection in 2007 and Decker a 3rd Round pick last year. Which goes to my overall point of Green is good, but not elite/Top-15 overall worthy.
LEGEND FOR RATINGS:
- SPEED = a combination of speed measurements from the NFL Combine/Pro-Days, measured against our data base on similar WRs
AGILITY = a combination of agility test measurements from the NFL Combine/Pro-Days, measured against our data base on similar WRs
HANDS = a combination of performance metrics and physical metrics to grade "hands" or ability to catch the ball translated ahead to the NFL. A unique/private metric of ours.
TD = a combination of performance metrics and physical metrics to grade "TD catching prowess", a kinda "red zone" factor translating ahead to the NFL. A unique/private metric of ours.
*school grade system, A+ being the best in class historically all the way to F- as historically the worst combination of metrics -- all based on what WRs with those measurements did (or didn't do) in the NFL.
|LAST||FIRST||Draft Year||COLLEGE||H||H||W||40-y||Hands||Speed||Agility||TD |
A.J. Green Overall System Score = 0.714
* See this story for background on our system scoring methodology -- NFL Draft 2011 - In Search of the Next Great NFL WR -- a Mathematical Analysis of College WRs - Fantasy Football 2011
2011 NFL DRAFT OUTLOOK
Green is going to go Top-15 it looks like, and possibly as the #1 WR off the board. I think A.J. Green is going to be a good NFL WR based on our system analysis, but a long shot to be elite. Given there are a few 2011 WRs that our system rates just as high and higher, it is a tragic business decision to tie up resources by expending a Top-15 pick on just a "good" WR who has nothing particularly special about them and considering there are several other WRs just as good/better that will go later/cheaper in the draft. Green would be a nice 2nd Round pick, but I don't think that is going to happen.
In my mind's eye, I had never seen anything like Calvin Johnson, Randy Moss or Larry Fitzgerald when I watched them in college/on tape, and our mathematical analysis agreed with that as well. I've/we've seen several A.J. Green-types come from college into the NFL...and that should scare any NFL franchise from using a high pick on him.
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