CBSSports.com Senior Writer

No sense of entitlement with A.J. Green, just immense talent

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Some might see four-game suspension next to A.J. Green's name and think he's just another diva receiver, more about himself than the team, the latest in a generation of big-play, big-pay, my-way pass catchers.

Green, the Georgia receiver most rate as the top at his position among this year's draft class, is far from that.

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Take a story told by an NFL assistant here at the scouting combine relating to Green and the interview process, which is a huge part of this entire week.

The coach said most players of Green's stature would only talk to the head coaches and general managers in designated meeting rooms. Green not only did that, but he talked to every assistant coach seated at tables outside those rooms.

There was no sense of entitlement in this player.

"He waited to make sure he sat down with all of them," the coach said. "That tells me a lot about the guy."

Several other league sources said the reason for his suspension -- selling his jersey to a man the NCAA declared as a runner for an agent for $1,000 -- is not a big deal. The character, they say, isn't an issue.

Green echoed those words when he met the media here Friday.

"You can talk to anybody I've been around, I definitely don't have character issues," Green said. "It was bad advice, bad judgment on my part."

Knowing the kid tried to make a few bucks won't overshadow the fact that Green is supremely talented. In talking to scouts and coaches here, they all rave about his ability.

Most say he's the clear-cut top receiver. Green topped 6-foot-3 in his measurement and weighed 211 pounds, great size for the position. Speed is the issue. He will run here at the combine, and some scouts wonder how he will clock his 40-yard dash.

If he runs under 4.5, expect him to go in the first five picks of the daft, maybe fourth to receiver-needy Cincinnati.

"By far, the top guy," one AFC scout said.

That puts him ahead of Alabama's Julio Jones, the other top receiver in this draft. Jones doesn't have the big-play ability that Green has, according to scouts.

A.J. Green's four-game suspension humbled him. 'I never faced any adversity like that,' he says. (US Presswire)  
A.J. Green's four-game suspension humbled him. 'I never faced any adversity like that,' he says. (US Presswire)  
A look at the numbers shows just that. Green's yards-per-catch averages at Georgia were 17.9, 15.2 and 14.9. Jones averaged 15.9, 13.5 and 14.5 in his three seasons.

The two have been compared to each other since coming into the SEC. They train together in Phoenix now and have become friends.

"We don't get caught up in the hype of who's going first," Green said.

That's basically a done deal. Unless Green runs a bloated 40 time, he will be the guy. The team that does draft him will be getting a football-hungry player.

"I'm not going to settle just being an average receiver," Green said. "I take it to heart, being one of the best. I don't want to fall by the wayside, being the No. 1 guy coming out of scout and then be the other guy. I want to be the best."

He said several times Friday that he couldn't wait to get the playbook from the team that does draft him -- provided there is no lockout. He talks about how hard he works, which scouts say is indeed true.

"Turn on my practice film," Green said. "And [see] the way I prepare for games week in and week out."

Combine prediction: Green will be a star. This isn't another Charles Rodgers or Roy Williams or Reggie Williams, highly drafted receivers who didn't live up to the hype. With his work ethic and drive, Green might be the next Larry Fitzgerald.

When he does make it big, expect him to be more Andre Johnson than Chad Ochocinco, which means quiet and subdued instead of a look-at-me receiver.

The four-game suspension hurt his stats last season, but that isn't something matters now.

"I never faced any adversity like that," Green said "It really humbled me."

It just didn't hurt him in the eyes of the NFL people.


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
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