If you ask your average Broncos fan who Virgil Green is, chances are you'll be met with silence. Green is not a household name in the NFL, he is not even a household name in Denver.
Green may be the most unheralded member of the Denver Broncos. He is undervalued, underappreciated and by and large, unknown. Yet he is invaluable to the Broncos.
He will line up as a blocker, H-back and even in the slot. You look at his numbers, 19 catches for 150 yards for his career, and see a guy who is replaceable, but in Green's case, the numbers don't tell the story.
Green's football career almost ended before it ever began. As an underclassmen in high school, Green experienced a rapid growth spurt, one which caused him pain and discomfort in his knees. The growth led to micro-fracture knee surgery which would cause Green to miss his freshman year at Nevada.
His surgery was successful, and after 6 months of rehabilitation, he returned to the football field, on the way to three solid years as a starter for the Wolfpack. During his time at Nevada, not only did Green excel on the football field, but in the classroom and in the community as well.
Green finished his college career with 71 catches for 911 yards and 11 touchdowns; average numbers by any account. While at Nevada, Green caught passes from San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Green entered the NFL Draft Combine with modest expectations, but left with everyone's attention.
During the Combine, Green posted the third fastest 40-yard dash time at 4.64 seconds. He also posted the third best bench press (23 reps), the fourth best 3-cone drill (6.9 seconds), and the second best 60-yard shuttle (11.63 seconds). Most impressive of all, Green was the top tight end by a wide margin in the vertical jump (42.5 inches) and the broad jump (10 feet, 10 inches). He performed much better than teammate Julius Thomas, who is blossoming as a receiving tight end for the Broncos.
Green left the combine with draft projections as high as the 3rd round and was expected to be selected before Thomas by some draft pundits. The book on Green was simple. He's too small and he can't block, but he is an athletic freak. The NFL loves athletic freaks. After all, Taylor Mays was a 2nd round draft pick.
With the 129th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Broncos selected a tight end, Julius Thomas, out of Portland State. With a developmental tight end in tow, the Broncos sat at pick 204, with the ability to pick the best player available, which happened to be another developmental tight end by the name of Virgil Green.
Green has been extremely slow out of the gates with his NFL career. It started with the lockout-shortened 2011 NFL off-season, where incoming rookies were barred from their respective team activities that are essential for rookies to get accustomed to their pro life.
With the arrival of Peyton Manning, so came the annual Manning trip to Duke University with a select group of receivers, an event that Green has yet to receive an invite to. This hasn't discouraged him, as he has carved out his niche on a potential Super Bowl team.
Green is currently the best blocking tight end on the roster, and as the 12 personnel (2 TEs) tight end, he's seeing more snaps than fellow backup, Jacob Tamme. In fact, Green is currently the highest rated Broncos tight end, in a limited role, with a +6.3 rating according to ProFootballFocus.
Green, along with a number of Broncos, including fellow tight ends Thomas and Tamme, is an impending free agent. He will likely be the most affordable option on the market and is a near lock to re-up with the team, while Thomas and Tamme may receive lucrative offers elsewhere.
This brings us to the remainder of the season. Myself and MHH Analyst, Erick Trickel, have had conversations regarding Green's potential moving forward. The Broncos have yet to use Green in a receiving role for more than just a cameo this season, which begs the question; when will they?
When Green is on the field, opposing defenses can either expect a run, or for Green to be used as an extra pass blocker. When will this change? Why hasn't Green blossomed as a receiver? What's holding him back? The answers to these questions, and more, lie in the second half of the season.