Since 1990, 30 wide receivers have been selected in the top 10 picks of the draft. There have been some standouts — for instance, Torry Holt and Terry Glenn were productive and vital performers on clubs that made the Super Bowl — but there have been a surprising number of highly chosen wideouts who had relatively quiet rookie seasons. Some receivers, like Herman Moore and Plaxico Burress, eventually developed into stars. Others, like Charles Rogers and Reggie Williams, never became difference makers.
It is early, but Bengals WR A.J. Green is on pace to author one of the more impressive rookie seasons by a top-10 pick in recent memory. Green, who has hauled in 40 passes for 599 yards and five TDs, is on track to rack up more catches and yards than any top-10 wideout since Glenn racked up 90 catches for 1,132 yards in '96. Also, he's on pace for 10 TDs, more than any top-10 wideout has racked up during this span.
The 6-4, 207-pound Green's rare skill set is plainly obvious. He is fast, quick and sure-handed. Tall, and with long arms, he is an inviting target for a quarterback. "He has a great catching radius," Bengals WRs coach James Urban said.
Also, Green plays the ball exceptionally well in the air, as he's shown on numerous occasions this season. "I think that's when he's at his best," Urban said of Green's skill in jump-ball situations.
Green's overall commitment to improvement has also stood out, Urban said.
"I would say that his general approach to things is better than I ever could have hoped," Urban said. "That is to say, he wants to be great."
Noted Urban, "He handles himself like a pro."
Green, who's been targeted more than another Bengals player, wants the ball like any receiver does, Urban said, but he's more patient than he was earlier in the season. "Every week he's getting better and better at trusting the offense, trusting the flow of the game," Urban said.
Urban, who was the Eagles' QB coach in 2009 and '10 before joining the Bengals in the offseason, said that Green and QB Andy Dalton have a good rapport.
"It's one of those great mutual respect things, which is really cool to see," he said.