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Thursday, April 28, 2011

NFL draft blog: A.J. Green goes fourth overall to Cincinnati, which he calls "best fit"

11:40 p.m.: Another day of waiting for Houston

The first round has ended, so Justin Houston will have to wait another day to be picked.

The former Georgia linebacker was once considered a likely pick for the late first round, but his stock dropped a tad as the draft approached. The reported positive test for marijuana - which happened at the combine in February, and became public this week - didn't help.

Remember, though, that Houston actually got a second-round grade from the NFL draft advisory board when he was considering going pro. So this isn't much of a surprise.

And there was only one linebacker taken in the first round: Von Miller, second overall by Denver. Houston could also qualify as a defensive end, depending on which team picks him. We'll have to wait till Friday to find out.

11:15 p.m.: Marvin Lewis on his new receiver

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis listed several factors that stood out about A.J. Green: his understanding of the game, his "radius" in catching passes, ability to run after the catch, and his willingness to improve.

“As we began the draft process, I had a lot of people speak to me about what a dynamic player he is," Lewis said. "He gives us a great threat, plays at a high level, does a great job running after the catch and has been a complete receiver. We’re excited to have him join our football team.”

Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden - whose brother Jon is quite vocal on the ESPN draft broadcast - said he had Green rated as the top player in the draft.

"I’m a little bit more excited than anybody else here, I guess," Gruden said. "I mean, I feel like I just got up on Christmas and opened up my favorite present. I’m so fired up. Not only is he a great player, but you meet with him and he’s a great person. He’s got a great attitude, he wants to work. He can do everything a receiver needs to do to be great — already."

Gruden was also asked to compare Green with Julio Jones, after the Atlanta Falcons traded up to get the former Alabama receiver.

“We were high on Jones, also. If A.J. was gone, I wouldn’t have been surprised if we took Julio," Gruden said. "I like Julio. He’s a big, strong receiver. I think the thing that sets A.J. apart up from Julio is just his natural ability to adjust to the ball and catch everything. Julio had some uncharacteristic drops; A.J. — never. He’s got great hands, and I think that sets him apart from Julio. Obviously Julio ran a faster time than him, he’s a big guy and he’ll do some great things in the NFL, also. We like them both.”

10:15 p.m.: Green sees similarities between Bengals offense and Georgia

Here’s a bit of what Green had to say on the conference call with the Cincinnati media:

- On what it was like to be picked fourth overall:

“It was a great feeling. It’s everything I’ve worked for until now,” Green said. “And just walking across that stage was unbelievable.”

- Green said the Bengals were the best fit for him.

“I felt like we ran some of the similar things at Georgia and I can adapt well to it,” Green said.

- Green was asked by what it was like playing for a freshman quarterback.

“It was just sometimes frustrating, but all I could do is do my job. He’s a great quarterback, and he’s going to be a great one,” Green said of Aaron Murray.

“I played with three different quarterbacks in my three years at Georgia, so I feel like I can adapt to anything.”

- Thanks to Chad Ochocinco’s proclivity for social media, Green was asked if he was on Twitter. He said yes, but only about once a week.

“I’m a guy that prefers to be behind the scenes and be a low-key guy,” Green said.

9:30 p.m.: More on Green, and other stuff

We're waiting to hear from Green and the Bengals. (They're holding a conference call up in Cincinnati, and I'm hoping to get a transcript.)

A quick note about receivers going high in the draft: The previous receivers to go in the top five were Calvin Johnson (second overall in 2007), Braylon Edwards (third overall in 2005), Larry Fitzgerald (third in 2004) and Andre Johnson (third overall in 2003). There was also Charles Rogers, who went second overall in 2003. That one didn't work out so much.

Meanwhile, the first round is almost halfway over, and the SEC rules: Five of the first six picks, and seven of the first 15.

The latest was Nick Fairley, who goes, incredibly, to Detroit, which picked Ndakaman (uh, spelling) Suh last year. Yes, the same Lions who also have Matt Stafford. Hopefully Fairley stays away from spearing that former Georgia quarterback during scrimmages.

The watch is on now for Justin Houston, a watch that is likely to wait until Friday night, when the second round starts. But you never know, the way SEC players are going off the board.

8:25 p.m.: A.J. Green goes to Cincinnati

The mock drafts, and Chad Ochocinco, ended up being correct. A.J. Green goes fourth overall to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Green becomes Georgia's second top-five pick in three years (Matt Stafford the top pick in 2009) and and the 26th first-round pick in school history. Other than Stafford, he's the highest Bulldog pick since Garrison Hearst went third overall in 1993.

8:05 p.m.: As expected, Cam Newton goes first overall

I'm on record not agreeing with the pick. Carolina didn't take the best available player. They took the best available quarterback - maybe.

Cam Newton has led a very charmed life lately, despite his transgressions: A Heisman trophy, a national title, endorsements, now the top overall pick.

I'll be curious if everything is still going his way in five years. I'll be even more curious how he reacts to playing on a team next year that isn't that good.

7 p.m.: Mr. Blog Man decides to do an NFL draft blog

Just turned on ESPN's pre-draft show - which began immediately after the end of last year's draft - to see A.J. Green in the green room at Radio City Music Hall. Green looked very debonair, with several women around him making up his clothing.

Of course earlier in the day Green tweeted that he was looking for a barber. So I guess the degree of planning only went so far.

The conventional wisdom is that Green is likely to end up going fourth overall to the Cincinnati Bengals. That team's big star, receiver Chad Ochocinco, has been pretty vocal that he'd love for the team to pick Green.

It's not out of the realm of possibility that the Carolina Panthers could pull a shocker and pick Green with the first overall pick. But all signs point to the Panthers taking Cam Newton.

And that, in my opinion, will be a mistake. You've got the character concerns - in addition to the NCAA stuff and the laptop/academic issues at Florida, Newton also seems a bit too self-glorifying than I'd be comfortable with in my franchise quarterback.

Yeah, everybody at Auburn said he was a great teammate, never had any issues. But he was only there one year, and it's pretty easy to be a model teammate and everyone to love you when you go 14-0.

Plus, the Panthers appear to be leaning towards Newton simply because they need a quarterback. (Jimmy Clausen apparently is already an afterthought.) If it were me, I'd take the best available player: and arguably that's Green, or LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, or Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus.

But hey, what do I know.

Besides Green, the other local angle tonight is Justin Houston. That pesky conventional wisdom now has him slipping out of the first round, partly because of the character concerns arising from the reported marijuana test. But it only takes one team to decide they love Houston's explosive ability. Will someone near the end of the first round (New England, maybe?) take a chance on the ex-Georgia linebacker?

I'll chime in here throughout the night with updates. Feel free to join in the discussion.


Dawgfan17 said...

I hope for AJ's sake the new CBA has something in it about players drafted by Cincy being eligible for free agency quicker than for any other team in the NFL. This was the worst possible situation he could have gone to. Hopefully he will do his thing for the next few years then get the hell out as soon as possible.

diving duck said...

I feel bad I hated Suzy Kolber's bit. Surely, I appreciated Ingram's reaction. It was just so forced by Kolber It lost genuineness.