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.
Today we're joined by SB Nation Atlanta Regional Editor Jason Kirk. You can also read all about A.J. Green's exploits at SB Nation's Georgia Bulldogs blog, Dawg Sports.
The main concern about Green is most likely a suspension he earned prior to the 2010 season. Kirk, however, doesn't believe it should raise any red flags with NFL teams. Incidently, Kirk also provides links to some excellent stories regarding Green in his answers if you want to click and read.
"He was suspended for four games for selling a jersey on the internet to a person who was later discovered to be something of an agent-like entity," says Kirk. "This information only came out because Green very willingly complied with an NCAA investigation into the North Carolina agentgate scandal, with which Green was never involved in any way. Short answer: the team would've won at least nine games last year had Green not been suspended."
Injury and the suspension limited Green's impact in Athens, and the Bulldogs were stuck in neutral when it came to big games and conference titles while he was at Georgia
"Due to injury and suspension he only played 32 games in his college career, and it really doesn't seem like that many," Kirk explained. "It's certainly not his fault, of course, as he doesn't take plays off, but the team never won a SEC East title or beat Florida in his time on campus. The great Green-vs.-Julio Jones debate was never really settled to anybody's satisfaction, either."
When he was on the field, Green made a major impact.
"It's funny - A.J. Green was the beginning and end of the Georgia Bulldogs offense during his final year in Athens, which was never more evident than when he wasn't around," Kirk said. "After struggling through four games without him due to some b*******, the Dawgs looked like an entirely new team when he returned for the Colorado game. And then, of course, when he had to leave the field due to his first live football action of the season coming in the Boulder heights, the offense ground to a halt again."
Off the field, Green was a model citizen and, like Lee Evans, soft-spoken to the point where he gets lost in the noise.
"Green comes across as a quiet guy," notes Kirk. "This seemed to hurt him during the NFL Combine, where his low-key personality was read as a confidence issue. Other than a wildfire he accidentally set off by vaguely denying reports he would enter the draft when it was pretty obvious that he was long gone, I don't think anybody has any complaints about his off-field behavior. For a Georgia football player to go three years without being arrested by petty and overeager Athens police is an accomplishment in itself."
With all that being said it seems Green is short on shortcomings.
"It's hard to say just how much he was able to open up the offense for other receivers and the running game, since UGA's offense is not one that's known for best taking advantage of its strengths," Kirk opined. "Particularly against Auburn and Georgia Tech, Aaron Murray-to-Green was unstoppable, but offensive coordinator Mike Bobo opted instead to strive for BALANCE, meaning to attempt to shove the ball up the middle against Nick Fairley. So, yes, Green opened things up, but only as much as he was capable of doing."
Green will go down in Georgia history as a very good player, but Kirk thinks there could have been something more.
"A 'damn good Dawg,' to borrow the parlance, but also as something of a missed opportunity," Kirk said.
When asked what his favorite memory of Green was, Kirk didn't respond with words, instead copying and pasting this video into the email response. It's a one-handed catch with a full extension in a game Georgia ultimately lost despite two touchdowns and 159 yards from scrimmage from Green. Here's the video:
As for the leap to the NFL, not only does Kirk think he's ready, he has high praise for the wideout.
"He's the most NFL-ready ball-handler in this year's draft," Kirk said. "I could see him having a more pronounced learning curve in the NFL than some players, but if he can hook up with a capable quarterback and offensive coordinator, he seems to be about as can't-miss as a college wide receiver can be."
Thanks once again to John Kirk from SB Nation Atlanta.