This was the scouting report on a highly ranked wide receiver in a recent NFL draft:
"The thing that separates (receiver x) from the other top receivers in this draft class is his almost unbelievable body control. It doesn't matter if he's leaping, twisting, or diving… he always has control of his body and has the ability to adjust to the ball while it's in the air.People often talk about the character of this kid as well. He's humble, has a great work ethic, he's a team player, and he has the drive to become a great player in the NFL. He also has immense confidence in his own abilities without the brash cockiness that can become a distraction."
Bengals fans might think that was an assessment of AJ Green, the receiver out of Georgia Cincinnati selected with the fourth overall pick in 2011. No, it's what one pro scout was saying about Larry Fitzgerald who wound up becoming the third overall pick in 2004 by the Arizona Cardinals.
Fitzgerald, of course, has gone on to become one of the most dangerous wide receivers in the NFL. He enters Saturday's game at Paul Brown Stadium against the Bengals already having surpassed 1000 yards receiving for the sixth time in his eight years in the league. He's been a large part of the revitalization of the Arizona Cardinals, including helping them to a Super Bowl appearance.
Fitzgerald has also increased his numbers this season. His yardage was down the past two seasons as the Cardinals struggled to find a replacement for Kurt Warner. This season, even with Kevin Kolb being injured and John Skelton taking the majority of the recent snaps, Fitzgerald has already blown by his last year's yardage total like the defensive backs he beats with regularity. He's also averaging a career best 17.8 yards per catch.
AJ Green has already bested Fitzgerald's rookie numbers. He topped 1000 yards last week in St. Louis and is averaging 16.5 yards per catch. He needs one more touchdown to match Fitzgerald's eight from his rookie season.
Green matches Fitzgerald in both size (both are 6'4") and body control. Like Fitzgerald, Green has an uncanny ability to judge the football and catch it at its highest point, making big catches even when double covered. Also like Fitzgerald, he possesses a humility uncommon among NFL wide receivers. Neither Green nor Fitzgerald are ones for elaborate end zone celebrations or engaging in other "look at me" actions on or off the field.
What Green does have when compared to Fitzgerald is superior speed. As Bengals fans have witnessed, Green can beat defenders with his legs as well as his hands and can produce some big yardage after the catch.
Both players will be keys to their teams' success on Saturday and each is more than likely the focal point of the opposition's defensive game plan. Fans should be in for a great show as these two match up.
If AJ Green is able to continue to draw comparisons to Fitzgerald over the course of his career, the Cincinnati Bengals will a force to contend with.