Seahawks Draft 2011: Wide Receivers

Published on April 22, 2011 by     Seahawks.Com News (Feed)

Despite an off-the-charts performance at the scouting combine by Julio Jones, the first receiver selected in the NFL Draft next Thursday is expected to be friend and SEC foe A.J. Green.

As far as combine workouts go, Julio Jones took his about as far as it could go.

40-yard dash: 4.39 seconds.

Vertical leap: 38½ inches.

Broad jump: 11 feet, 3 inches.

And the obviously talented wide receiver from Alabama did all this in February with a broken foot.

But even that freak-of-nature performance might not be enough to make Jones the first wide-out selected in the NFL Draft next Thursday.

Say what? Say A.J. Green, the equally talented and perhaps more NFL-ready receiver from Georgia.

2011 DRAFT: OFFENSIVE LINE
A look at the position heading into the April 28-30 NFL Draft (position and overall rankings and projections by Rob Rang, senior analysts for NFLDraftScout.com):

Rank Player, School Projection
1/4 WR A.J. Green, Georgia First Round
2/9 WR Julio Jones, Alabama First Round
3/37 WR Torrey Smith, Maryland First/Second Round
4/46 WR Leonard Hankerson, Miami Second Round
5/47 WR Randall Cobb, Kentucky Second Round
What’s it all mean? He’s the catch when it comes to wide receivers: Those snagged at the top of the draft typically disappoint more than they delight. That’s why only two were selected in the first round last year, and late in the round – Demaryius Thomas at No. 22 by the Denver Broncos and Dez White at No. 24 by the Dallas Cowboys. That’s why none went in the first round in 2008. This year, however, Green and Jones have too much talent and potential to last too long. The real question with these two: Just how high will they be drafted?

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“Julio Jones is very, very, very good,” said Todd McShay, draft analyst for ESPN. “But A.J. Green is special. I think he’s at a different level.”

The first team that might have to make the Green-or-Jones/Jones-or-Green decision is the Cincinnati Bengals, who hold the fourth pick in the first round and might have seen the last of Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens.

“If I was the Bengals, and I’ve decided I’m taking a receiver and I’m choosing between those two, I wouldn’t waste a minute turning in the card for A.J. Green,” McShay said.

As he said, it’s not that McShay doesn’t like Jones. He just likes Green more. A lot more.

“I don’t think Julio Jones has closed the gap,” McShay said. “And I really like Julio Jones. I don’t want this to become a Julio Jones bashing session, because it’s not.”

McShay backs that disclaimer with his actions. He has Jones with a high-first round grade and rates him the 11th-best prospect in this year’s draft class. In his latest mock draft, McShay has Green going at No. 4 to the Bengals and Jones at No. 6 to the Cleveland Browns.

“I rarely have wide receivers this high,” he said. “But, A.J. Green provides more explosiveness, more big-play ability and he’s just a better overall athlete. He makes more spectacular catches, tougher catches in traffic and he’s more consistent catching the football.

“The guy is big and strong and competitive as all get out.”

This Green-or-Jones/Jones-or-Green debate is nothing new to Jones. That’s because each played in the SEC. That’s also why they won’t be lured into the who’s-better discussion.

“I’m not going to say that,” Jones offered at the combine when asked if he should be the first wide receiver selected in the draft. “A.J. is a great receiver. We work together (in Phoenix before the combine). I like the guy as a person, a friend, everything.

“Whoever takes either one of us is going to get a great receiver.”

OK, A.J. (which stands for Adriel Jeremiah), it’s your turn.

“We don’t get caught up in the hype,” Green said. “We’re just two guys trying to be the best. I think I’m the best. But I’m not going to get mad if I’m not the top receiver drafted. It’s not going to mess with our friendship.”

OK, then. Let’s turn to their production to help spice the speculation.

In three seasons at Alabama, Jones caught 179 passes for 2,653 yards and 15 touchdowns. In his junior season, and in only 12 games, he caught 78 balls for 1,133 yards. While going against LSU’s Patrick Peterson, the top-rated cornerback in this draft class, Jones had 10 receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown – the only TD that Peterson allowed last season. Jones also had a 12-catch, 221-yard outing against Tennessee.

Green, meanwhile, caught 56 passes for 963 yards and eight touchdowns as a true freshman in 2008 – when he was catching those passes from Matthew Stafford, the first pick overall in the 2009 draft. Green followed that with 53 receptions for 808 yards and six touchdowns as a sophomore. Last season, it was 57 catches for 848 yards and nine touchdowns.

Then there’s the size issue. Jones is a shade less than 6-3 and weighs 220 pounds. Green is almost two inches taller, but nine pounds lighter.

Jones is generally considered a better blocker – and takes pride in that aspect of his game.

“I have a defensive mentality,” said Jones, whose given name is Quintorris Lopez. “I’m not scared to hit. I’m a physical guy. I look for that. I like to hit defensive players because they’re not used to getting hit. They’re used to hitting offensive players and getting them out of their comfort zone.

“So when I hit them, I try to get them out of their comfort zone.”

Finally, an edge to Jones. Or, maybe not.

“If you’re going to draft a receiver because one is a better blocker than the other, I think you’re missing the point,” McShay said.

McShay isn’t alone when it comes to giving Green the edge over Jones, especially if both are available to the Bengals at No. 4.

“I think A.J. Green is a special player,” said Mike Mayock, draft analyst for the NFL Network. “I wouldn’t bat an eye if he went 4. You’re talking about a guy with length, unbelievable throwing radius, great hands.

“The thing that’s most impressive to me, outside of the hands, is his ability for a big guy to get in and out of breaks. He’s got feet like a 5-foot-10 receiver, which is rare for a big guy.”

OK, so he’s good. But good enough to be not only the top receiver selected, but one of the first four players drafted?

“I’m not a huge proponent of wide-outs going that high,” Mayock said, “but I think this kid is the exception.”

2011 Draft: Wide Receivers

A look at the positions heading into the April 28-30 NFL Draft (position and overall rankings and projections by Rob Rang, senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com):

Rank Player, School Ht. Wt. Projection
1/4 WR A.J. Green, Georiga 6-4 211 First Round
2/9 WR Julio Jones, Alabama 6-3 220 First Round
3/37 WR Torrey Smith, Maryland 6-1 204 First/Second Round
4/46 WR Leonard Hankerson, Miami 6-2 204 Second Round
5/47 WR Randall Cobb, Kentucky 5-10 191 Second Round
What’s it all mean? He’s the catch when it comes to wide receivers: Those snagged at the top of the draft typically disappoint more than they delight. That’s why only two were selected in the first round last year, and late in the round – Demaryius Thomas at No. 22 by the Denver Broncos and Dez White at No. 24 by the Dallas Cowboys. That’s why none went in the first round in 2008. This year, however, Green and Jones have too much talent and potential to last too long. The real question with these two: Just how high will they be drafted?

What about? Kyle Randolph. The tight end from Notre Dame is the top-rated player at his position, but ranked only 37th overall by Rang. His ability to stretch defenses helps offset concerns about the surgery he had on his separated left shoulder after the 2009 season and another on his detached right hamstring last October.

What???s up with? Titus Young. The undersized wide-out (174 pounds) put up some big numbers at Boise State: 71 catches for 1,215 yards and nine touchdowns last season; 79 for 1,041 and 10 in 2009. But he’s ranked only eighth among the wide-outs and 70th overall by Rang. It’s his ability to also return kickoffs and punts that likely will lead to him being selected in the second round. Last season, he averaged 23.5 yards on kickoff returns and 10.8 on punt returns. In 2009, it was 26.9 yards on kickoffs, including scoring returns of 100 and 95 yards.

Seahawks situation? After being given a tryout at an April minicamp last year, former Top 10 draft choice Mike Williams was signed and ended up leading the team with 65 receptions. Only seven players have had lower team-leading totals in a 16-game season: fullback John L. Williams (58 in 1988), wide receiver Joey Galloway (57 in 1996), wide receiver Derrick Mayes (62 in 1999), wide receiver Sean Dawkins and running back Ricky Watters (63 each in 2000), wide receiver Darrell Jackson (63 in 2006) and tight end John Carlson (55 in 2008). But it still was quite a return to form for Williams, who had been out of the league the previous two seasons and had only 44 receptions combined in his three seasons in the league after being drafted in the first round in 2005 by the Detroit Lions. The Seahawks could use a dash of speed and a big-play threat to complement Williams and Carlson; as well as Deon Butler, who is coming off a season-ending broken leg, and the versatile Ben Obomanu. What would really help is Golden Tate, last year’s second-round draft choice, refining his skills to enhance his abundant athletic ability.

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