2011 NFL Draft: A.J. Green vs. Julio Jones

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2011 NFL Draft: A.J. Green vs. Julio Jones
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Neither former University of Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green, nor former University of Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones is one of the top two wide receivers in the 2011 NFL Draft; that distinction goes to Jon Baldwin and Aldrick Robinson.

Yet, since most people seem to view Green and Jones as the two premier wide receivers in the upcoming draft; at the very least, they should know which one is the better wide receiver prospect. That way they can avoid overvaluing the wrong wide receiver.

Of the two, without a doubt, Green was the more complete college wide receiver, and the player more likely to find success in the NFL.

Just as I did with Baldwin and Robinson in order to measure the value of their presence in the passing game, I looked at how Green's quarterbacks performed when he was included in their statistics to when he was removed.

Over the course of his career, after Green was removed from their passing statistics in games in which he played and was targeted for a pass, Georgia's quarterbacks became 2.9 percent worse in completion percentage (from 59.1 percent to 57.4 percent), 8.3 percent worse in yards per pass attempt (from 8.4 to 7.7), 4.9 percent worse in yards per completion (14.2 to 13.5) and 10.6 percent worse in touchdown percentage (6.6 percent to 5.9 percent).

Under the same conditions, when Jones was removed from Alabama's quarterbacks' statistics, they experienced a 3.0 percent increase in completion percentage (from 62.9 percent to 64.8 percent), a 3.7 percent decrease in yards per pass attempt (from 8.2 to 7.9), a 6.2 percent decrease in yards per completion (from 13.0 to 12.2) and a 2.0 percent increase in touchdown percentage (from 5.1 percent to 5.2 percent).

Although Jones has a slight edge over Green in terms of the value provided to their respective quarterbacks' yards per completion averages, Green blows Jones away in value provided in completion percentage, yards per pass attempt average and touchdown percentage.

The only explanation for the hype still surrounding Jones has to be because of his freshman season when he exploded on the college football landscape in tremendous fashion.

In that year, when Jones is removed from Alabama quarterbacks' statistics, they underwent a 1.5 percent increase in completion percentage (from 58.4 percent to 59.3 percent), an 11.1 percent decrease in yards per pass attempt (from 7.2 to 6.4), a 13.0 percent decrease in yards per completion (from 12.3 to 10.7) and a 9.1 percent decrease in touchdown percentage (from 3.3 percent to 3.0 percent).

If Jones had been able to even come close to maintaining that level of value for the rest of his college career, then he could rightly be considered to be one of the best wide receiver prospects in the draft. Instead, he followed his spectacular freshman season with an awful sophomore year.

During his sophomore season, when Jones was removed from his quarterbacks' statistics, they became 9.4 percent better in completion percentage (from 59.7 percent to 65.3 percent), 6.8 percent better in yards per pass attempt (from 7.4 to 7.9), 3.2 percent worse in yards per completion (from 12.5 to 12.1) and 4.3 percent better in touchdown percentage (from 4.7 percent to 4.9 percent).

An elite wide receiver whose quarterbacks get that much better when not throwing in his direction does not exist because there is no such thing. Jones' sophomore season was representative of a wide receiver with below-average ability.

Jones did improve in his junior season, but he did not come close to the level of value he provided his quarterbacks as a freshman. For his junior season, when Jones was removed from Alabama's quarterbacks' passing statistics, they experienced a .6 percent decrease in completion percentage (from 70.0 percent to 69.6 percent), a 2.1 percent decrease in yards per pass attempt (from 9.7 to 9.5), a 2.2 percent decrease in yards per completion (from 13.9 to 13.6), and a 5.6 percent increase in touchdown percentage (from 7.2 percent to 7.6 percent).

Alabama quarterbacks received only the slimmest of benefits when throwing in Jones' direction in the 2010 season, and any NFL team that drafts Jones thinking it will be obtaining an impact wide receiver will be sorely disappointed.

Green's college career was also an inconsistent one, but even at his worst, Green never turned in a season as disappointing as Jones.

Relative to Jones, Green had a minimal impact in his freshman year. After Green was removed from Georgia's quarterbacks' statistics, they became 4.1 percent better in completion percentage (from 61.5 percent to 64.0 percent), 2.2 percent worse in yards per pass attempt (from 8.9 to 8.7), 5.5 percent worse in yards per completion (from 14.5 to 13.7), and 5.9 percent worse in touchdown percentage (from 6.8 percent to 6.4 percent).

Although Green's career did not start with the bang that Jones' career did, nor did Green's quarterbacks get worse when throwing to Green in his freshman season, which was Green's worst year in college.

Green's best college season took place in his spectacularly valuable sophomore campaign. That season, when he was removed from Georgia's quarterbacks' statistics, they underwent a 10.4 percent decrease in completion percentage (from 54.0 percent to 48.4 percent), an 18.3 percent decrease in yards per pass attempt (from 7.1 to 5.8), a 9.1 percent decrease in yards per completion (from 13.2 to 12.0), and an 8.9 percent decrease in touchdown percentage (from 5.6 percent to 5.1 percent).

Green's best season eclipses Jones' best season in overall value. It also eclipses Green's other two seasons as he was unable to duplicate his sophomore exploits and regressed fairly significantly during his junior season. However, even with the regression, Georgia's quarterbacks were still made better by throwing to Green.

As a junior in his suspension-shortened season, when Green was removed from his quarterbacks' statistics, they become 6.2 percent worse in completion percentage (from 61.0 percent to 57.2 percent), 6.7 percent worse in yards per pass attempt (from 9.0 to 8.4), .7 percent worse in yards per completion (from 14.7 to 14.6), and 21.1 percent worse in touchdown percentage (from 7.6 percent to 6.0 percent).

In addition to being a more complete wide receiver, Green's best season in college was better than Jones' best season, and his worst year was superior to Jones' worst year. If a team ignores Baldwin or Robinson and decides to choose between Green and Jones instead, Green is obviously the better option.

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