With the draft arriving on Thursday the more the rampant speculation as to whom the Bengals will select in the first round increases. Will it be a quarterback? A wide receiver? A cornerback (Patrick Peterson cough cough..)? Or some pick out of left field that none of us saw coming.
It has been widely speculated that the Bengals will select a wide receiver. If that's the case then it comes down to two finalists in A.J. Green and Julio Jones. Personally, I would advocate for the Bengals to select A.J. Green over Julio Jones, but there are other experts and analysts out there who would dispute my choice. Peter King reported that the Bengals have Jones ahead of Green on their draft board. The Bengals believe Jones is a safer pick in comparison to Green, but my question is why do they think that?
What makes Jones safer? He's coming off of foot surgery, which last time I checked foot surgery on a wide receiver can be a slight warning sign of bad things to come. I don't care that he ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at the combine or had an 11-3 broad jump either. When you throw him into action against the tough defenses that the Bengals are scheduled to face next season, it becomes a whole new ball of wax as to how he performs. Another aspect that worries me about Jones is the fact that he hasn't shown consistency in his catching abilities. One good quality that makes Jones stand out is his ability to block; he's been regarded as a solid blocker by those who watched him at the combine.
When it comes to figuring out the which receiver is better, why not ask the greatest of all time? Former wide receiver and current Hall of Famer Jerry Rice believes Green is the better of the two receivers.
"I would have to say A.J. Green because the guy, he makes plays," Rice said. "He makes plays and he doesn’t drop the ball as much and that’s part of Jones, what he’s going to have to work on, Julio Jones, he’s going to have to work on catching the football. So maybe right now he’s that young pup right now but once you get to that level, that next level, teams are not going to afford to let you drop footballs."
ESPN's Todd McShay believes the Bengals should select Georgia's Green over Alabama's Jones as well.
"Julio Jones is very, very, very good, but A.J. Green is special," McShay said. "... That's why if I was the Bengals and I decided I'm picking a receiver and choosing between these two, I wouldn't waste a minute turning in the card for A.J. Green."
As for Green, he has better hands in comparison to Jones. Also there's something about Green that makes him an attractive commodity. He's more than a play maker, he's a game changer. He's been highly regarded as the top receiver in the draft.
But as with Jones, there are some red flags with Green. Off the field Green was suspended for the first four games of his final season with the Bulldogs because he sold his bowl game jersey for $1,000 to former North Carolina cornerback Chris Hawkins. When it comes to his on-field problems the only one of concern is his blocking ability. If Green can improve his blocking skills, it would make him even better.
When making a one-on-one comparison of Green and Jones it is evident that both players have their strengths and weaknesses, but it would seem as if Green has the slight edge over Jones. Both have solid speed, Green has better hands, Jones is a better blocker, but the one thing that sets Green apart from Jones is his ability to make plays out of nothing. Jones simply just doesn't have that ability.
When Thursday's draft rolls around it will be interesting to see if the Bengals take A.J. Green or Julio Jones, or even someone else. But one thing to take into consideration is if Green is still on the board then why not take the best available receiver? Only time will tell what the Bengals decide to do.