Who’s better, A.J. Green or Julio Jones?
This question has become timeless, as the two have been compared head-to-head since the days they both emerged from high school as five-star recruits. Jones and Green both continued their dominance in the SEC, wiping the floor with their respective competition. The Bengals selected Green — rather than a quarterback, as many expected they’d do — with the fourth pick in the 2011 Draft. Jones landed in Atlanta with the No. 6 overall pick after the Falcons traded up for him, despite already boasting Roddy White who, in 2010, reeled in 115 passes for 1,389 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Green and Jones have been utterly dominant in their respective NFL careers, and nothing does a better job illuminating their dominance than the two players’ 2016 numbers:
Through four games, Green has caught 32 passes for 468 yards and two touchdowns. He has eight catches of 20 or more yards and three that have gone for 40 or more. Jones, meanwhile, has caught 22 passes for 488 yards and three touchdowns, with nine catches of 20 or more yards and four that have gone for 40 or more. 300 of those yards came in Week 4 when Jones completely dominated the Panthers' defense.
While it’s easy to try to look at numbers and come to conclusions between the two players, the bottom line is that neither Green nor Jones has definitively separated himself from the other. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The two superstars have been incredibly dominant and consistent since entering the league in 2011, tallying eight collective Pro Bowl appearances and three All-Pro nods (one first team, two second team).
NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks took to his sources to answer the age-old question, asking five NFL execs who of the two is better. A surprising four of the five took Green, citing his toughness and durability as a major reason why he’s the more desirable of the two wideouts:
AFC pro personnel director: "Can I have both of them? Both are big, fast and have good ball skills. They are versatile and capable of aligning in the slot to create mismatches. In addition, they both are excellent at the line of scrimmage and can defeat press coverage with ease. Julio has better strength and Green is more fluid. Both can win the 50-50 balls and both have the ability to turn a 6-yard slant into a touchdown. I think Green has been more durable, so I will go with him."
Former AFC general manager: "Green. Easy answer. Durability equals availability. Jones is always battling through some kind of injury. He's like a Lamborghini -- he costs more and is more powerful, but he needs that high-end maintenance."
While NFL executives can always appreciate explosiveness, it seems they value Green’s polish over Jones’ off-the-charts athleticism:
NFC scout: "Green. He is a looser athlete with a better all-around game."
AFC senior personnel executive: "Green. I like his hands and route-running skills. Jones is more explosive, but Green is the more polished player."
However, Green’s relative inconsistency when healthy has seemed to spook at least one exec:
NFC senior personnel executive: "Jones. He is bigger and more physical. Plus, Green is a bit of a disappearing act at times. I've seen too many defensive backs take the ball from him in critical moments."
You simply can’t go wrong with either player. Green presents durability and polish, while Jones boasts athleticism that simply cannot be matched by anyone, Green included. Choosing between the two is simply a matter of personal preference. You can either take Guy 1 (Green), who will put up big numbers on a consistent basis, or you can take Guy 2 (Jones), who will put up even bigger numbers but on a less consistent basis. Neither option is wrong.
Brooks, his co-host Daniel Jeremiah and former NFL receiver Reggie Wayne unanimously endorsed Jones as the better of the two, which seemed interesting to me considering the NFL execs he spoke with were so high on Green. I think NFL Network’s extensive coverage of Jones’ highlight reel clips and relative lack-of-knowledge regarding Green’s dominance plays at least a minor factor in their decision-making process, as it seems Green is always left out of the conversation, despite execs thinking he’s the better player.
Also worth mentioning is the fact that both players have awesome names. Adriel Jeremiah Green is so fun to say, especially when the wideout breaks off a long touchdown. Quintorris "Julio" Lopez Jones is just as cool of a name. I'm sure Dan Hoard would make a great call with Jones' name if he was the one who ended up in Cincinnati.
With that, I leave the question up to you: Who do you take between the two?