A.J. Green: Better Receiver Than Antonio Brown?

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May 26, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) walks onto the field during OTAs at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Imagine this. You’re an NFL general manager in charge of constructing the best team possible. You have the chance to take Steelers receiver Antonio Brown or Bengals receiver A.J. Green. Both players are incredible pass-catchers. But which player is the better receiver?

A year ago today, most NFL fans and analysts would agree that A.J. Green is the best receiver in the NFL outside of Calvin Johnson. Only two things were evident at this time of last season, pertaining to wide receivers: Calvin Johnson is the best receiver in the NFL (and the second-best receiver in the league isn’t even close), and A.J. Green is the next best receiver of the rest of those receivers remaining (while the rest of the receivers are a notch below Green).

Now here we are in 2015, and the discussion regarding wide receivers is very different. Today, most fans and analysts alike would agree that Antonio Brown is the best receiver in the league, followed by Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham and Calvin Johnson (in no particular order). This pecking order is much different than that of the 2014 offseason; not only has Megatron been dethroned, but A.J. Green is nowhere to be found the top five receivers of the league (Julio Jones or Jordy Nelson would likely round out the top five).

Sep 8, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) catches a 45 yard touchdown pass over Chicago Bears cornerback

Tim Jennings

(26) during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

However, in ranking Brown as the best receiver in the NFL, people have made one critical error: basing their rankings on a single season. Let’s rewind to last season for a second and consider why Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green were considered the best receivers in the league.

It is now 2014 and Calvin Johnson is coming off a second straight year of being the consensus top wideout in the NFL. Johnson finished 2013 with 84 catches for 1,492 yards and 12 touchdowns. People who watch football can easily see that Megatron is the best receiver in football; he stands both out on the screen and on the stat sheet. Calvin Johnson is the most physically gifted receiver in football; he has deceptive speed, incredible hands and a knack for making game-changing plays.

And in 2012, the year before, Johnson put together the best receiving yardage season in NFL history, recording 1,964 receiving yards. Johnson has shown that he can have this production on a year-to-year basis. Megatron has recorded over 10,000 receiving yards in his eight seasons and has scored 74 career touchdowns. He’s earned five Pro Bowl nods in eight seasons and has led the NFL in receiving yards twice. Johnson earned the title of being the best receiver in the NFL through seasons of production.

Meanwhile, A.J. Green is coming off of a career year, and although he’s nowhere close to Calvin Johnson, he’s still the consensus number two wideout in the NFL. Green finished 2013 with 98 catches for 1,426 yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s tall and quick, he consistently beats double coverage and he is arguably the most consistent receiver in the NFL.

And Green, like Johnson, has been productive for years. Although he hasn’t been in the league for nearly as long, Green has been a Pro Bowler in each of his three seasons and has scored 22 touchdowns in the past two seasons, including a nine game stretch of 2012 with at least one touchdown in each game (Green was voted to another Pro Bowl in 2014).

This now brings us back to the current problem: fans and even some fellow players think that Antonio Brown is the best receiver in the NFL, when he’s not even the best receiver in the AFC North. And because of this, analysts–in an effort to be able to draw more viewer interest–entertain the idea that Antonio Brown is even among the NFL’s top wideouts, when he really only has two years worth of solid production in five years pro. Let’s look at some top receivers’ season averages over their respective careers.

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Next: An Arguement for the Best