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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Without airs, A.J. Green set to soar into NFL

Here is my story from this morning's papers on A.J. Green - and a bit on Justin Houston. One former Georgia star has overcome an NCAA suspension to have character be a positive for NFL teams - while the other has questions.

ATHENS - A.J. Green walked into a conference room one afternoon in September, and the questions came firing: Did he know that selling his jersey was against NCAA rules? How well did he know this so-called agent? Why did he put his eligibility in jeopardy?

Through it all, the Georgia receiver never asked officials standing behind him for a bail-out. He answered the question, then waited for the next one. After a few minutes, it was over.

"He was probably more forthcoming than he needed to be or could’ve been,” said Claude Felton, UGA’s associate athletics director for communications.

In the end, Green’s four-game suspension by the NCAA last year became the only blip in a career marked not only by spectacular plays, but an unassuming manner. That’s one reason why Green -- who plays a position known for prima donna behavior -- is expected to be one of the top picks in the NFL draft Thursday night.

But the off-field factor may be swinging in the opposite direction for another former Bulldogs player.

The rest of the story addresses Houston's situation, and includes quotes from Green, Akeem Dent and NFL analyst Wes Bunting of the National Football Post.

Here are also some quick-hitting comments from Bunting on the other Bulldog prospects in tonight's draft:

- Bunting called Houston a "one-trick pony" as far as his pass-rushing, in that Houston has to win with his first step, and has trouble getting off blocks.

- Clint Boling projects as a late second or early third round pick. Bunting believes Boling is best suited at left guard.

“The versatility helps," Boling said. "He’s not a guy you’re going to win because of at the next level, but you can win with.”

- Akeem Dent has NFL size and was productive as an SEC linebacker.

“That’s two things he has going for him," Bunting said. "He’s gotten this buzz all of a sudden, that he’s a mid-round prospect. … Me personally, I still see him as a late-round type of player.”

- Fullback Shaun Chapas may or may not be picked, but he can stick on a roster.

"He can catch the ball and lead block," Bunting said. "He just needs to stay healthy. His medical history could prevent him from being drafted, and not many fullbacks get drafted to begin with."

- Kris Durham is a “sneaky athlete," according to Bunting. The senior receiver has that “strider speed down the field, where the further down the field he gets the faster he gets.”

He could get drafted, and have a solid career as a fourth or fifth receiver type, according to the analyst.

- Defensive end Demarcus Dobbs probably won’t be drafted, but has a chance to make a roster.

“He’s a physical guy, he can give you two downs,” Bunting said.

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