With the retirement of Calvin Johnson, who was widely recognized as the best receiver in football the last few years becoming official this morning, this could be the year that AJ Green takes over as the best wide receiver in the league. At 6’4″ and a 40 time of 4.5 seconds, he has all of the tangibles to be the best, not including the numbers he has put up since entering the league in 2011.
Last season, Green finished the season with 10 touchdowns which was good enough for 10th in the league. The emergence of Tyler Eifert may have lowered his touchdown production, but 10 touchdowns is a good year nonetheless. Statistically it wasn’t a jaw dropping year, but it’s AJ’s value to the team overall that separates him from the rest. With defenses having to focus on the deep threat that Green proposes, more teams had to revert to a deep zone, which opened up room for Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard to run in a softer box. Also, AJ should be given some credit for the emergence of Tyler Eifert and his huge numbers last year. Teams were so focused on not getting beat by Green that it opened up room in the middle for Eifert.
Since entering the league in 2011, Green has surpassed 1,000 yards and has managed double-digit touchdowns in four of his six years of playing. Arguments have been made for Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr., and DeAndre Hopkins as the best wide receivers in the league as well. Brown recently listed his top 5 wide receiver list while on ESPN’s His And Hers and left Green out of his top 5. Green is repeatedly disrespected by fans, the media, and even fellow players.
The sample size of Odell and DeAndre are small, as they have only played a few years. Julio and AJ were both drafted in 2011, Julio has compiled 6,201 yards with 34 touchdowns. AJ has 6,171 yards with 45 touchdowns. Even though Julio has 30 more yards, AJ has 11 more touchdowns, which is a huge advantage in the discussion for the best. Antonio Brown was drafted in 2010 and to date has 7,093 yards and 38 touchdowns. Between the touchdowns and value to his team, Green is already in most logical people’s talks of the top few receivers in the league.
If Andy Dalton can have the year he had before his injury last season, AJ should have a monster year. Last year was a bitter ending for the Bengals that should fuel this team for next year. AJ is going to be a key piece for this Bengals team for several years moving forward, especially with the uncertainty of Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones. Next year is a chance for AJ to show everyone in the NFL that he is the best receiver in the league.