Who is this Guy?
Rashad Greene was a fifth round draft pick by the Jaguars after a record-setting career at Florida State. Projected by most media to be picked in the top 100, Greene fell to the Jags at #139 and was set to provide competition for Ace Sanders to play the slot receiver role. This all came after a highly productive career at FSU. In his senior season for the Noles, he broke the school records for receiving yards and receptions. He and Jameis Winston showed great chemistry, with 175 of 270 career catches and 2493 of 3830 career receiving yards coming in the two years with Jameis as the starter. He also had a career 12.3 punt return average with 2 career special-teams touchdowns.
Greene has never been a physical marvel but has made a living creating separation with his route running. Greene isn’t fast or highly athletic, posting a 4.53 40-yard dash and a 36’’ vertical at 5’11 182lbs. He also has 9’’ hands, which is pretty small for a WR. His game has never been about being a burner or outmuscling a DB for a jump ball, as he focuses on separating and making magic happen after the catch. Basically, it looked like he had the perfect skill set for a slot receiver who could be highly productive.
As a rookie for the Jags this season, Greene underperformed. While he started off strong, posting 7 catches and his first career TD in the opener against Carolina, he was put on the “IR Designated to Return” and was inactive until mid-November, where he failed to succeed as a receiver, but became a lethal punt returner. He finished the season with 19 catches for 93 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 18 punt returns for 301 yards and one touchdown.
Why is he Overrated?
Again, like last week, I’m not calling Greene a bad player. I just think the fans are a bit too bullish on him as a receiver. The reason that Greene was picked up in the fifth round is because coaches didn’t think he would be able to contribute in the passing game and Greene hasn’t shown anything to prove otherwise.
First off, I love Greene as a returner. His vision as a returner and feel for the blocking is so much fun to watch. Greene averaged an absurd 16.7 yards per return. However, I got curious and decided to eliminate his two long returns (the 63 yarder against Tennessee on TNF to set up the game winning touchdown and the 73 yarder in the Colts blowout) from his stats and see his average. It’s still over 10 yards per return. For reference, this deflated average (10.3125 yards per return) is higher than some of the best PRs in the league, such as Antonio Brown (9.6 AVG on 22 attempts), Dwayne Harris (10.0 AVG on 34 attempts), Tyler Lockett (9.5 AVG on 40 attempts) and Jarvis Landry (9.9 AVG on 36 attempts). Granted, these players had more attempts because of Greene’s injury, but Greene’s numbers are still impressive. This info seems a bit counterintuitive, seeing as I am supposed to be claiming that Greene is overrated, but all of this will come to fruition in my final point.
My problems with Greene comes with him as a receiver. In college, he showed that he can produce with a high number of targets, the best QB in college football and college defenses. His stats don’t mean anything when looking at his potential to produce in the NFL because the game changes so much. Teams have nickel specialists who focus on covering receivers with Greene’s skill-set every week. You’re no longer playing against the third-best corner on the roster like you’re in a Madden game, you have to face guys like Aaron Colvin, Chris Harris, Bene Benwikere and Nickell Robey who focus primarily on slot coverage. He also doesn’t have the elite physical tools that help players succeed in the NFL. This contributed to his absurdly low 4.9 YPC this season, which is unacceptable for an NFL offense.
My main concern is with his ability to catch the ball. Greene was targeted 35 times in 2015, making 19 catches and 3 drops. His catch rate of 54.3% is really low for a slot receiver, rookie or not. His 8.6% drop rate is fairly high as well. Out of receivers with more than 20 targets, his drop rate was 11th highest in the NFL, but most of the players ahead of him were deep threats like Ted Ginn Jr. and Martavis Bryant or highly targeted players like Julian Edelman. Otherwise, he’s passed only by no-names like Darius Jennings, Andre Roberts, (in an ironic twist) Marqise Lee, and Andre Caldwell. Greene defenders are going to say that his thumb injury caused his catch issues this year, but that just isn’t the case. Greene had 7 drops in his junior season at FSU, and while he was able to reduce that number significantly in his senior year, it showed that he tends to lack concentration when catching the football (a criticism I’ve had for Marqise Lee since he joined the team). His small hands probably contribute to this as well. Greene hasn’t showed me that he can be a consistent enough receiver to be automatically inserted into the starting lineup.
What’s the Alternative?
Luckily for the Jags, we have another slot receiver who is capable of starting on the roster in Bryan Walters. Walters, who was initially released from the team near the end of training camp, used injuries to Greene and Lee to force himself into the game-plan and become the safety valve for Blake Bortles early in the season. Walters’ stats are significantly better than Greene’s, posting 32 catches and 1 touchdown on 45 targets at 11.5 YPC. He had a great catch rate of 71.1% and a fantastic drop rate of only 2.2%. He also developed good chemistry with Blake Bortles and looked extremely comfortable in Greg Olsen’s offense this season. Walters is much more physical as a player, helped by having more weight and bigger hands. He may not be as shifty, but he’s a physical player who produces more consistently than Greene.
The point I’m trying to make is that Rashad Greene has not performed well enough to be higher in the receiver rotation than Bryan Walters in 2016. I’m perfectly fine with Greene staying on the roster and being the exclusive punt returner on the roster (as I think any sane Jags fan is). He just should not be counted on as a top-3 receiver for this team until he can prove that he can make plays happen after the catch and consistently catch the football.
Agree with me or think I’m an idiot? Let me know in the comments section below or on Twitter @twjohns97. Keep reading my stuff and all the great content on genjag.com! Also, don’t forget to check out our great merchandise on the site and the great membership deals!