A popular series from last draft cycle is returning yet again at Stampede Blue. Last offseason, I interviewed over 40 prospects that could eventually be fits for the Indianapolis Colts in the 2019 NFL Draft. As a result, we were able to find out a lot about two Colts who went on to eventually be drafted by the team in Marvell Tell III and Khari Willis. This year I hope to interview even more prospects so you all can get an inside look at these player’s accomplishments and mindsets going into this next draft.
Our next prospect is cornerback A.J Green from Oklahoma State. Green checks off so many of Ballard’s boxes, with his leadership in college and Senior Bowl performance this offseason. We had a great conversation about his leadership role at Oklahoma State, his preferred techniques in coverage, and how he wins in press man.
6’1” 190 pounds
40 Time: 4.62 / Bench Press: 13 reps
49 tackles, 1.0 tackle for a loss, 5 pass deflections, and 1 interception.
Fit with the Colts:
The Colts need a little bit more depth at the cornerback spot heading into the 2020 NFL season. Green may not be the fastest corner in this class but he has the length and physicality that Ballard likes in his cornerbacks. He also is a hard worker, a locker room leader, and physical in the run game, all traits that Ballard loves in his corners. He may be a day three guy due to his slow 40 time, but I could see Ballard adding him for depth on day three of the Draft.
Mid Day 3
CB AJ Green (Oklahoma State, 6’ 1”, 190 lbs). Another good AJ Green but this time at CB. Stats: (40 games) 118 Solo Tackles, 29 Asst Tackles, 147 Combined Tackles, 5.5 TFL, 6 INT, 1 TD, 21 PD & 2 FF. #AJGreen #4EDraft2020 pic.twitter.com/te1C59DmQ8— 49er_Edits (@49er_edits) February 15, 2020
Guys like second-rounders Rock Ya-Sin (Colts) and Lonnie Johnson (Texans) helped themselves with big weeks at last year’s Senior Bowl and we feel like @CowboyFB CB A.J. Green (@AjGofor6) has similar top-round talent. 3-year starter for Oklahoma State. #TheDraftStartsInMOBILE pic.twitter.com/vX70228HNN— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) September 22, 2019
I thought Oklahoma State CB A.J. Green had a nice week in Mobile. Was physical, showed some athleticism, and always finished through the receivers hands. pic.twitter.com/rKYqG0py6V— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) January 27, 2020
ZH: Let’s start a bit with your off-field before we get on the field. You were named a Team Captain and also won the Vernon Grant award for Leadership in 2019. What did it mean to you to be recognized with both of those honors?
AG: It meant a lot. It just shows that my hard work wasn’t going and to be voted a Team Captain by my teammates and my coaches was just a big accomplishment for me and something I take so much pride in. The Vernon Grant award, again, is just something that I just worked for and all that extra work and courage was awarded and that was big for me.
ZH: Back in 2017 you also won the Barry Sanders award which is for the player with the biggest contribution with the least recognition. What did it mean to you to get that award back when you were a sophomore?
AG: Just grinding and working hard and knowing that when I get my opportunity, I’m going to do what I can do out there. So just watching the film and working behind the scenes really worked out for me back then and the coaches took notice of it. It was nice to get a little recognition from my team, so yeah, it was pretty good overall.
ZH: You were also an All-Academic player in the Big 12 to go along with those other honors. Just how important was it for you to be well rounded on and off the field throughout your college career?
AG: So Oklahoma State is a great program and they show you to be the same person off the field as you are on the field. Of course, on the field you have to be a different type of intensity and aggressiveness, but you have to take that hard work on the field and apply it to the other aspects of your life off the field. So just balancing the two was pretty easy for me.
ZH: After your solid career at Oklahoma State, you were awarded with an invitation to the Senior Bowl. How was that whole week for you on and off the field?
AG: It was a great experience for me and I’m just thankful for the opportunity. The situations we were put in at the Senior Bowl were situations I felt like I would do well in like one on ones, team, and things like that so I felt like I had a good week there. Off the field, it was hectic. Coaches pulling at you to talk to you, interviews with GMs, and trying to learn the play book over those couple days was all tough. I feel like I did pretty well adjusting and showed that I’m a fast learner who is ready for this opportunity.
ZH: Let’s jump into some film talk now. To start, how would you describe your defense at Oklahoma State? Like what coverage did you primarily play there?
AG: We were a man defense. A majority of the time we were a 3-3 stack and our philosophy was to get after the quarterback. We were the aggressor most of the time because our corners were left on islands most of the time and we were blitzing to rush the quarterback.
ZH: How would you say that type of defense fit your personal skill set?
AG: I feel like I fit pretty well. Whether we were pressing or playing off man, that is kind of my strong suit just playing man and taking players away. We did lots of disguising too off of that and we would roll from man to cover 3 or from cover 3 to cover 4 and what not. Our man scheme of getting after the quarterback would be disguised throughout the game and that played well to my strengths.
ZH: You are a very intriguing press corner and that is where you had your best film. What press technique do you personally prefer?
AG: I’ve been trained to know all the press techniques and they are all in my arsenal. Most the time, though, it would depend on the week leading up to the game. I would watch receivers the week before and see which press techniques he struggles with and what he likes to go against so I can kind of switch it up from game to game depending on the match up.
ZH: So I’m gonna put you on the spot here a bit. Let’s say you are in press man and the guy across you is trying to get vertical. What is your main objective as a corner to prevent that from happening?
AG: I want him to go sideways. I don’t want him to get to his route immediately so I want to get him off that line so he can’t get vertical and throw off his timing with the quarterback. The closer he is to the sideline and off his line, the less likely chance for a completion.
ZH: Who would you say was the toughest receiver you faced in your college career?
AG: Not too many receivers gave me many problems but I’d say the best receiver was in practice against Tylan Wallace. He was probably the best one. He’s going to be good in the NFL next year.
ZH: Who are some NFL corners you watch to try to pick up little techniques and such from?
AG: I watch guys like Darius Slay and Jalen Ramsey. I feel like they are two pretty good corners. Ramsey can talk and then his play can always back it up and Slay easily because he just shows up and gets the job done.
ZH: Last question for you. What is my team getting in this draft if they spend a pick on AJ Green?
AG: You are gonna get a shutdown corner. I see myself as a plug and play type of corner who can go in any scheme. Whether you are a cover one man or a cover three or cover two, I have the versatility to play it all. No corner has the size and speed of me to match up with the big receivers as well as with the shorter quick guys as well. I come from a pass-heavy league, we have faced QBs like Mahomes and Baker so I’ve just seen it all and played all type of receivers. I feel like best suited for the next level.