A.J. Green is looking forward to proving his doubters wrong.
A three-year starter at cornerback for Oklahoma State and a two-time selection to the All-Big 12 defensive second team, Green was projected to be selected at some point on Day 3 of the 2020 NFL Draft. But Green did not hear his name called and he found himself on the outside looking in once the draft came to a close.
Green did not have to wait very long, however, as the Cleveland Browns went after him hard once teams started signing players as undrafted free agents. How hard? Well, general manager Andrew Berry handed Green a contract that includes $145,000 in guaranteed money, reportedly the most every for an undrafted player.
Now, as the Browns slowly work their way toward what will hopefully be the start of training camp in July, Green is ready to reward the Browns for their interest.
Green spoke with Fox 25 News in Oklahoma on Wednesday and talked about how facing Big 12 offenses each week prepared him for the challenges of the NFL:
“I was pretty dominate in my time, in my college career. I did face the likes of CeeDee Lamb, Hollywood Brown, so, I did face some pretty good receivers, but I also faced some pretty good quarterbacks, like (Jalen) Hurts, Kyler Murray, (Patrick) Mahomes, so, I feel like all this only helps me and will only help me in the future to succeed, it’s only a benefit.
“With Coach (Jim) Knowles we ran different type of defense, we did cover one, we did cover three, we ran some zone pressures, we did corner blitzes, so we kind of did it all. Going to the NFL with the Browns, we kind of do some similar things, just the language is different. So, it’s helped me shift over to the Browns organization.”
On Friday, ESPN’s Jake Trotter also sang Green’s praises to Fox 25 News:
“That was a guy that Cleveland really wanted and after Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams at corner, that third corner spot is open for him to compete for. It would not stun me if he made a roster spot at the end of all this.”
Trotter followed that up by pointing out that the best path for Green to earn a roster spot is through special teams, which brings up some important points to remember.
While teams make mistakes all the time during the draft, to go undrafted from a a high-profile program like Oklahoma State means that Green has some holes in his game.
Green has the size at 6-foot-1 and 199 pounds to play cornerback in the NFL, but has some technique issues that might take some time to work out, as The Draft Network’s Kyle Crabbs pointed out prior to the draft:
Green struggles with tackling and his lack of length is a consistent sore spot for his play. A physical presence, Green can effectively reroute receivers — if he gets framed evenly on the play. Green is too over-reactive and unbalanced at the LOS and needs to reel himself in so that he’s better able to dictate reps. A three-year starter, there’s some significant muscle memory habits to break moving forward.
With no one knowing how training camp will unfold this year, and with the NFL seriously considering reducing the number of preseason games to two, there may not be enough time for Green to make an impression at the cornerback position, leaving special teams as the more likely route.
But given his level of confidence and desire to prove everyone wrong for passing on him in the draft, it might be foolish to dismiss the idea of Green earning playing time with the defense this fall.