The Browns may be able to add a serious vertical threat to their offense in this year's NFL Draft if Georgia's AJ Green is available. Projected as the first wide receiver to be taken in the draft, Green probably won't last past the first ten to fifteen picks, possibly allowing Cleveland to have a legitimate shot and grabbing the talented wideout. With great depth at many defensive positions, Green may be the ideal pick for the Browns in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Green possesses everything that scouts look for in a wide receiver. First off, he has the ideal physical makeup. At 6'4", 208 lbs, Green comes in with an automatic height advantage over most NFL cornerbacks. His frame is a bit thin and he could certainly use a few extra pounds of muscle, but that doesn't mean Green isn't tough. Green uses what he has to his advantage. He consistently uses his long arms to defeat the jam at the line of scrimmage as well as extending his body to grab the pass at it's highest point. In most scenarios, Green can out-leap any defender, giving him a huge advantage in the red zone. He'll also put his body on the line when making a leaping catch, which has led to some injury issues.
Green could be described as tall or even lanky, but he's deceptively nimble when running routes and after the catch. He's a bit of a long strider, but he gets up to speed relatively fast and can out run many corners on deep routes. The best aspect of Green's game as a wide receiver is that he's a natural hands catcher. Rarely does Green use his body to make the catch and he appears to have strong hands on tape, able to snatch the ball out of the air with ease.
There is a slight history of injuries for Green. In 2009, he missed one game with a bruised chest and two games with a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder.
Coming into the season, Green was slated as the top wide receiver eligible for the 2011 NFL Draft. Even after receiving a four game suspension for selling his 2009 Independence Bowl jersey to former North Carolina defensive back Chris Hawkins, Green remained the top receiver on most big boards.
This week, Green returned to the field for the first time this season against Colorado and he didn't disappoint. He finished the game with 7 receptions for 119 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a one-handed, leaping grab in the corner of the endzone. Green also added 40 yards rushing which he gained on a single run. However, Green left the game early in the second half after he suffered from severe leg cramps and did not return.
This type of play maker is exactly what the Browns need to provide a consistent vertical threat on offense. Green would demand extra attention from defenses, making Massaquoi and Cribbs even more effective. A legitimate #1 WR like AJ Green would also keep defenses from stacking the box against the rush, barring that whoever is under center for the Browns is able to get him the ball.
In addition to being the Draft Expert for The OBR, Will is also the founder of Draft Breakdown. You can follow Will on Twitter @DraftBreakdown.
Prospect Spotlight: AJ Green
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