There hasn't been much debate on whether or not AJ Green is better than Calvin Johnson but I think it's time to start thinking about this argument now that AJ is about to enter the second half of his college career. That's right, AJ will leave after his junior year and should be a top 5 pick in the NFL draft, too. He won't impress the scouts with record breaking numbers like Calvin Johnson did at the combines but Green will certainly hold his own in nearly every category to prove he's the next Randy Moss with a great attitude. Calvin stands at 6'5", 240lbs, possessing a 45 inch vertical leap, 4.3 speed, great hands, great instincts, and a proven ability to make a tough play seem easy. Those numbers are hard to surpass, and while I think AJ Green is just a hair under all of those numbers, I definitely think his hands, instincts, and playmaking abilities could be better. At any rate, before further analyzing the poking and prodding cattle show that is the NFL combine, I'm more curious to see how well statistically AJ Green has measured up against one of the most esteemed wide receivers to come out of the area in quite some time.
Calvin Johnson had three great years at Georgia Tech. He started catching the eye of many college football fans when he started as a freshman and immediately began catching very errant pass thrown by Reggie Ball. From 2004-2006, he amassed 178 receptions, 2,927 yards, and 28 touchdowns. So far, AJ Green has been equal or more productive in nearly every category as Calvin and Green's freshman year is a good indication of where he's headed:
Freshman YEAR REC YDS AVG LNG TD
Johnson 2004 48 837 17.4 51 7
Green 2008 56 963 17.2 54 8
Before you say anything, I agree. Calvin did have Reggie Ball his freshman year while AJ had Matthew Stafford. Okay, let's compare their sophomore years since Reggie Ball and Joe Cox are a little more equal. We'll have to base AJ's sophomore numbers on projections since the season isn't quite half-way over.
Sophomore YEAR REC YDS AVG LNG TD
Johnson 2005 54 888 16.4 59 6
Green 2009 72 1265 17.6 56 12
By the end of AJ's illustrious career at Georgia, he should not only pass Calvin in every statistical category, he will have done it against stiffer competition. After two years at Georgia Tech, Calvin Johnson had eight games of 100yds but also had nine games where he either caught no more than two catches or was held under 50 receiving yards. And, in only two of those 100yds games were those numbers against a ranked opponent. AJ Green only has four 100yd games to this point (projected to hit seven by the end of the season) with only three games of two catches or less than 50 receiving yards. He has one 100yd receiving game and missed his second last Saturday afternoon by one yard. If we take a final look at the career numbers of Calvin Johnson and the projected career numbers for AJ Green (including 2010 numbers of 75-1330-17.4-56-14, the results could be staggering:
Career YEAR REC YDS AVG LNG TD
Johnson career totals 178 2927 16.5 66 28
Green career totals 203 3558 17.4 55 34
If you don't like projections, let's just look at statistics from both receivers first 17 games of their college careers:
17games YEAR REC YDS AVG LNG TD
Johnson career totals 76 1345 18.5 59 11
Green career totals 86 1490 18.9 56 13
It is fun to run the numbers and see where each player stands but it is equally amazing to see how productive these two receivers were in just their first season and a half of college football. I'm anxious to see how the second half of AJ Green's career will unfold. If he continues at the current pace, he will leave little doubt who best receiver is. Will AJ Green supplant Calvin Johnson as the most gifted wide receiver in the state of Georgia? He already has.
Let the debate begin. Hey, AJ started it - not me.