This post is part of a continuing series in which we break down 13 2011 NFL Draft prospects - our Baker's Dozen - that should interest the Buffalo Bills. Keep up to date on our Baker's Dozen series here.
For a very lengthy period of time - pretty much since the second that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck decided to return to school for his senior season - Georgia wideout A.J. Green has been considered by many to be the best player available in the 2011 NFL Draft. His talents are undeniable, and his production at Georgia was marvelously consistent.
Aiding Green's draft stock is the fact that he's seen as a quiet, hard worker that doesn't crave the spotlight. Despite interesting commentary at the Combine in February (where he said that preparation wasn't one of his strong suits), teams like Green the person.
But that doesn't mean that there aren't questions about Green that team's aren't working feverishly to answer before he sits at or near the top of their draft boards. There's a four-game suspension to explain away, and a question about his football acumen, as well.
Last September, Green was suspended by the NCAA for four games after it deemed that Green received "impermissible benefits." Turns out that Green had sold a game-worn jersey to a man that falls under the NCAA's classification of "agent," and did so for a sum of about $1,000. TeamSpeedKills.com has a great explanation of why Green got four games for a $1,000 mistake, while Alabama DL Marcell Dareus got his reduced to two for a $1,700 mistake:
Dareus originally was on the hook for a four game suspension with a repayment of over $1,700 for his role in the agent-sponsored South Beach party. The reinstatement committee reduced that to two games because of mitigating circumstances. Those circumstances were that his mother was on her death bed, something which could have affected his judgment. To anyone's knowledge, Green has no such mitigating circumstances.
The other major issue Green faces from a "character" standpoint is his low score on the Wonderlic. His 10 was the lowest among receivers at the Combine this year, and according to sources who spoke with Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly, teams are concerned that he'll be able to pick up the nuances of the NFL game.
"He will get it," one evaluator said. "You're going to have to take it slow with him and let him start at one position and let him learn on the run. He's not going to be able to handle learning all three positions. If you ask him to be an X, Y and Z, you're setting him up for failure."
"A.J. won't reach his full potential," another evaluator said. "It's hard for dumb receivers. I don't know that Julio Jones (who scored a 15, ranking in the bottom 12 among wideouts) will be much better."
A third evaluator said, "You can't cover that guy. He's so difficult to defend. Will it take him some time? It could. That's on the coaches. It's their job not to give him too much. If you overload him, you could have some problems initially, but he's a great kid. He'll work at it. And he'll get it."
At best, these two concerns combined have only led to something of a divide among NFL talent evaluators - and it likely won't be enough to slide him down draft boards too dramatically. In terms of the Bills, however, it's an interesting case given their needs. With ample young receiver depth, Green may need to be a slam dunk, super-clean prospect for the Bills to consider drafting him. Depending on how they perceive these background issues, he may be either a consideration, or not rate on their big board at all.