December 21, 2014

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Georgia receiver A.J. Green might be just what Browns need

INDIANAPOLIS – The Browns need to get faster. They want to add a playmaking receiver. They would like to surround quarterback Colt McCoy with more weapons.

No wonder Georgia receiver A.J. Green is a popular choice in mock drafts for the Browns to take with the sixth pick in April’s draft.

“Explosive players on offense are what you’re looking for,” coach Pat Shurmur said Friday at the NFL scouting combine. “Obviously, he fits in that explosive player category.”

Green is 6-foot-3½, 211 pounds and considered by most the top receiver available. He’s known for his acrobatic catches and is expected to be taken within the top 10 picks.

“Yeah, I’m assuming he’s gonna go somewhere in there,” general manager Tom Heckert said.

Some GMs won’t draft a receiver in the top 10. There have been some notable busts, and receivers need a lot to go right – good protection, good throw – for them to even have a chance to be successful. Phil Savage’s pick of Braylon Edwards at No. 3 in 2005 turned out to be a disappointment for the Browns.

“It seems like there’s a lot of busts early. So I think that scares people off,” Heckert said. “But if the guy’s good enough, I don’t think there’s any question about it.

“You have to have conviction. But there’s a lot of teams that had conviction, and guys didn’t work out.”

“I think if you can find a great player, and he’s at the spot where you’re willing to pick him, let’s do it,” Shurmur said.

The depth of receivers in the draft could hurt Green’s chances of being picked by the Browns. They may decide to go defense with the first pick, and come back with receiver at No. 37.

“You want to make sure you cover as many areas of concern as you can but without passing up a really good player,” Heckert said. “If you pick the first guy and he’s a really good player but your other six stink, I don’t know how long you’re gonna survive doing that.

“You try to maneuver around the board. You try to come up with the best possible scenario throughout the first three rounds.”

Green would already have a good friend in receiver Mohamed Massaquoi if he landed in Cleveland. Massaquoi was a second-round pick out of Georgia in 2009 and is the team’s No. 1 wideout. He struggled in 2010 with 36 catches for 483 yards and two touchdowns.

“Mo, he’s my mentor since I stepped foot onto Georgia’s campus and I turn to him for advice,” Green said Friday. “It’d be nice to play with him. My freshman year he took me under his wing and showed me the ropes.

“When I’m talking to Mo, we don’t really talk football. He doesn’t like to talk football unless I ask him a question or something.”

Alabama’s Julio Jones is considered his main competition to be the first wideout off the board.

“I want to be the No. 1 receiver out of school and be mentioned with the best,” Green said. “My work ethic, I’m not going to settle for being an average receiver. I take that to the heart to be one of the best.”

Green was suspended four games for selling his jersey from a bowl game for $1,000. He played in nine in 2010 as a junior with 57 catches for 848 yards and nine touchdowns. He totaled 2,619 yards, 23 touchdowns and a 15.8 average in three seasons.

He said NFL teams have inquired about the violation and his character.

“You can talk to anyone I’ve been around – I definitely don’t have character concerns, it was just bad judgment on my part,” he said. “Growing up I didn’t have any adversity like that.

“That really humbled me and tightened my circle down to the people I need to be around and people who I need to distance myself from.”

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.