Tightening the screws on our prediction-maker which takes inhales thousands of variables and mashes them at light speed like a particle collider, we were posed with a question from ESPN's James Walker (I know surprising): Who Starts Opposite A.J. Green In Cincinnati? Walker talks about scenarios with the assumption that Green will be the day one starter.
It seems to us that the greater question is, why the certainty that Green will start right away in 2011? The team's last receiver selected fourth overall, Peter Warrick, started every game during his rookie year in 2000. During that rookie season, Warrick posted more than five receptions in a game once, with his best game coming on November 19, 2000 where he caught seven passes for 79 yards receiving and a touchdown.
Yet, we'd be deceiving you by not pointing out that the team's second-leading wide receiver was Craig Yeast, posting 24 receptions. Not exactly promoting a collection of talented receivers when your second-leading receiver in 2000 played 35 career games and posted 27 career receptions. Of the players that ranked in the top-six with receptions, only three were receivers and one of those was Danny Farmer. Yet, of the first round wide receiver selections by the Bengals before Green, Warrick posted the second-most receptions.
Obviously Warrick was the man in 2000. He was largely the team's sole threat in the passing game during his rookie season. In Green's case, there's Chad Ochocinco (who could still remain on the team -- think preseason injuries) and the unknown Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell; both of whom are far more talented and athletic than Warrick's supporting cast in 2000.
The lockout complicates rookie development this year, slowing down observable development from the team's coaching staff as opposed to a typical offseason where rookie minicamp has already taken place, along with other Offseason Training Activities. Green can mingle with his new teammates in Southern California as of now, catch a few passes from quarterbacks and develop that critical repertoire between quarterback and wide receiver.
Along with the lockout, another noticeable reason that the Bengals may ease Green into a starting role has a lot to do with the explosion from Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell in the final three games in 2010. Both receivers combined for 35 receptions, 547 yards receiving and three touchdowns, helping the Bengals win half of their 2010 win total in the final three games that season.
And at this point, we're assuming that Chad Ochocinco will be released.
Green is talented enough to quickly become the team's starting wide receiver. And he's definitely the likely candidate to be the team's number one receiver sooner rather than later. But it wouldn't surprise us if the team eased him into the starting role.