Green was having arguably the best season of his career when he tore his hamstring early in the team's 10th game. Prorate his nine-game stats over a full 16-game season, and you'd get 117 catches for 1,714 yards and seven scores. Green was also highly efficient, averaging 14.6 YPC (10th) and 9.6 YPT (4th among the league's 41 100-target WR). At 6-4, 210, with 4.48 speed, Green is still a dangerous deep threat -- he tied for the league lead with six catches for 40-plus yards despite missing nearly seven games. Green saw only 10 red-zone looks (which prorates to 18), low for a player of his height and skills, though not in Julio Jones territory for neglect. The presence of red-zone hog Tyler Eifert -- on the rare occasions when the tight end is healthy -- cuts into Green's opportunities near pay dirt. Green's hamstring had healed enough that he was cleared to work out in March and presumably will be 100 percent well before the start of training camp. The Bengals drafted blazingly fast receiver John Ross with the ninth overall pick, but he's more likely to impact Brandon LaFell and last year's second rounder Tyler Boyd than Green. While quarterback Andy Dalton is hardly Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees, his serviceability and longstanding rapport with Green make for a stable situation, giving Green an awfully high healthy floor.
Green had an under-the-radar huge year in 2015. His 9.8 YPT was third among the league's 32 100-target WR and first among anyone with more than 105 targets. He tied for seventh in catches of 20-plus yards (19) despite being 15th in targets. His 10 scores tied for eighth, even though he was 11th in red-zone looks (19) and tied for 14th in targets inside the 10 with eight. In short, Green was an elite WR whose totals were limited only by his modest usage. That could change in 2016. The Bengals parted with 152 targets between Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu. In their place is 29-year-old Brandon LaFell and rookie second-rounder Tyler Boyd. And tight end Tyler Eifert (16 RZ targets) enters the season with uncertainty after ankle surgery. So, there's some chance Green sees an uptick in looks, especially if the Bengals' defense (17.4 PPG allowed, 2nd) takes a small step back. Green's production fell off significantly during the season's final three weeks when AJ McCarron took over for injured starter Andy Dalton, who is healthy again at press time. At 6-4, 207, with 4.48 speed and excellent quickness for his size, Green is still one of the league's premier big-play threats, and his healthy floor is among the league's highest. His ceiling hinges on whether he sees the target volume commensurate with his talent.
A toe injury cost Green three midseason games, an arm injury cost him most of another in Week 16 and a concussion during the fourth quarter in Week 17 sidelined him for the team's wild-card loss against the Colts. Despite the physical toll, and quarterback Andy Dalton's significant regression, Green's per-play and per-game production remained robust as ever. He averaged 9.0 YPT, good for 12th among the league's 41 100-target wideouts, and 15.1 YPC (9th). And prorating over a full season, his 69 catches for 1,041 yards and six scores in essentially 12 games comes to 92 catches for 1,388 yards and eight touchdowns. At 6-4, 207, with 4.48 speed, excellent quickness for his size and good ball skills, Green has been one of the league's top big-play receivers since he was drafted fourth overall in 2011. The concerns here are the nagging injuries — though he's reportedly 100 percent healthy — and Dalton's spotty play under center. Dalton should, however, get a boost not only from a healthy Green but also the return of Marvin Jones, who missed all last season, and tight end Tyler Eifert, who saw only eight snaps in Week 1. At 26, Green is still in his prime and should more or less be slotted where he was a year ago.
Like most receivers, Green’s efficiency has gone down as his opportunities have gone up. As long as he’s getting 178 targets (3rd), that’s a tradeoff with which most are willing to live. Despite pedestrian per-play averages –14.6 YPC (15th among the league’s 37 100-target WR) and 8.0 YPT (18th) – Green was one of two receivers to have 90 catches, 1,400 yards and double-digit touchdowns (Demaryius Thomas was the other). At 6-4, 207 and with excellent speed and ball skills, Green is a threat to get deep and also a weapon in the red zone. Green’s eight catches of 40 yards or more were second only to Josh Gordon’s nine, and he was a prolific target near the goal line with 11 looks inside the 10 (tied for 5th). The biggest risk for Green this season is a reduction in targets – after all, the Bengals are strong defensively, and Giovani Bernard, Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert are developing into complementary threats. But that was the case last year, too, and Cincinnati still aired the ball out 587 times (12th). Moreover, should Green’s targets diminish, presumably his efficiency would increase.
Believe it or not, Green had a down year – at least on a per play basis.
While Green led the league with seven catches of 40-plus, he had only 16 catches of 20-plus (T-15th) on 164 targets (T-5th), and he averaged a pedestrian 8.2 yards per target, 16th among the league's 39 100-target wideouts. Green was primarily a volume guy and a goal-line threat, with 23 red-zone looks (T-2nd), 14 from inside the 10 (1st).
Nonetheless, Green finished as the No. 4 overall receiver in standard leagues last year (No. 3 in PPR), and there's reason to think his efficiency will improve. Green averaged 9.2 YPT during his rookie season and had more big plays (19 to 16) despite 49 fewer targets. At 24, the 6-4, 210-pound burner hasn't lost a step, and quarterback Andy Dalton could get better in Year 3. Even at the current pace, the volume and red-zone looks ensure a high floor.
A rare 1,000-yard receiver as a rookie, Green is just getting started in the NFL. At 6-4, 210, with excellent speed, outstanding ball skills and superior athleticism, Green is already a mismatch for opposing defensive backs. He averaged 9.2 yards per target as a rookie, while catching balls from a rookie quarterback. Despite missing a game with a knee injury, and playing through a shoulder sprain, Green had seven catches of 40-plus yards (tied for 3rd). Green also showed outstanding hands, dropping only three passes in 115 targets. Green also saw 16 red-zone targets, nine of which were from inside the 10 (tied for 6th). Given his size and leaping ability, it’s reasonable to expect more scores in 2012. Green could stand to bulk up a bit, especially as the NFL season took its toll on him last year, but with Green entering his second year along with quarterback Andy Dalton, things should only get better.
The No. 4 overall pick out of Georgia, the 6-4, 210-pound Green projects as a potential superstar with excellent speed, uncanny quickness for a player his size and superior athleticism. Green has good hands and fantastic ball skills, going up over smaller defenders and catching the ball at its peak. He'll need to put on more muscle, and his immediate situation – an unsettled quarterback position in Cincinnati and other budding young receivers in Jordan Shipley, Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell – is far from ideal. But Green's not a project – he's NFL-ready right now, and his skills merit a late-round flier, irrespective of his environment.