Ask the League: Would you take A.J. Green or Julio Jones?


Former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks knows the ins and outs of this league, providing keen insight in his weekly notebook. The topics of this edition include:

» Better receiver from the Class of 2011: A.J. Green or Julio Jones?

» An explanation for Jimmy Graham's renaissance.

» Keys to playing good defense in today's pass-happy NFL.

ASK THE LEAGUE: Would you take A.J. Green or Julio Jones?

It's kind of ironic that Julio Jones (12 catches for 300 yards and a touchdown) and A.J. Green (10 catches for 173 yards and a touchdown) both enjoyed banner days in Week 4. Their careers have been joined at the hip since they burst on the scene as five-star recruits in 2008. The duo battled for top billing in the recruiting rankings, in the SEC and then in the 2011 NFL Draft. Since entering the league as top-10 picks, they've both emerged as perennial Pro Bowlers, the kind of prototypical WR1s that every team covets in a pass-happy league. Considering their synonymous careers and how they both continue to dominate the game from the perimeter, I thought I would reach out to some league folks and see which big-bodied playmaker they'd rather have. Here's the question I asked, followed by their responses:

If you needed a WR1 to build your offense around, which one would you want: Julio Jones or A.J. Green?

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."

NFC scout: "Green. He is a looser athlete with a better all-around game."

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."

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."

AFC senior personnel executive: "Green. I like his hands and route-running skills. Jones is more explosive, but Green is the more polished player."


This is one of the toughest personnel debates I've encountered. Both are ideal WR1s with the size, speed and athleticism to absolutely dominate the game. Each guy is capable of lining up at "X" (split end), "Z" (flanker) or "E" (slot receiver) in any scheme or system. In addition, Jones and Green are capable of thriving on catch-and-run plays that allow them to make the magic happen when they get the ball on the move underneath coverage. Not to mention, each is a legitimate big-play threat and red-zone weapon as the focal point of his offense.

From a statistical standpoint, the career numbers are remarkably close:

Green (80 games): 447 receptions for 6,639 yards (14.9 ypc) and 47 touchdowns.

Jones (69 games): 436 receptions for 6,689 yards (15.3 ypc) and 37 touchdowns.

The Bengals star has the edge in big plays (Green has 34 receptions of 40-plus yards, compared to Jones' 27), while the Falcons playmaker boasts a higher yards-per-game average (96.9 to 83.0).

Thus, the debate really comes down to style preference.

While I have the utmost respect for Green and his ballerina-like game, there is something about Jones' explosiveness and physicality that would make him my preferred WR1. I just believe that he is better suited to play in a scheme that places an emphasis on "RAC" (run after catch) on short passes inside the numbers. Green certainly could do the same, but Jones' superior size and speed seemingly would make him a better fit in my preferred offense.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.



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