When the 2011 NFL Draft approached, most fans of the Cincinnati Bengals were ready to move on at the wide receiver position. Chad Johnson‘s tenure was at an end, the Terrell Owens experiment didn’t work out, and the other guys at the position weren’t the #1 WR type. The top receivers in that year’s draft were Georgia’s A.J. Green and Alabama’s Julio Jones, and both were considered elite talents. The question was whether the Bengals would go after a WR at all, or go defense, which was also a need. As everybody knows, the Bengals used the 4th pick of the draft to select the 6’4, 211 lb Green, and he set out immediately to prove himself worthy of the selection. He’s already accomplished that, but the question is, How good is he?
In his rookie season, Green was an instant starter, and racked up over 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns on 65 catches, and made the Pro Bowl, the first rookie WR to do so since Anquan Boldin in 2003. Green and Andy Dalton also became the all-time leading rookie QB/WR combo in terms of yards and receptions. He also passed Cris Collinsworth as the franchise’s all-time leader in receiving yards for a rookie. He also had an entire season’s worth of highlight reel plays, showing off terrific speed to burn defenders deep, as well as using his height and leaping ability to make a couple of ridiculous catches over defensive backs. In one of his more memorable plays, he out-jumped Steelers safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark for a TD. He had several others that displayed his uncanny balance and unnaturally good hands.