A.J. Green worked out at Georgia’s pro day on Tuesday without a single NFL scout or coach on the sideline.
The NFL talent evaluators weren’t permitted under league rules to watch in person as Green, a projected top-10 overall pick, ran routes and snagged balls thrown his way.
That’s because the player throwing to him, former Buford High quarterback Justin Roper, is from the Atlanta metropolitan area.
Athens is only 46.25 miles away, but isn’t included in the metro area, the NFL determined, so scouts and coaches couldn’t watch Roper, and thus Green, throw and catch.
“He couldn’t throw and that’s the only quarterback I had timing with here,” said Green, who had caught passes from Roper about five times before Tuesday. “So we – my agent and I – thought he was the best guy for the job. They can watch this film on TV, so it doesn’t really matter.”
The issue arose Tuesday morning about whether scouts were going to be allowed to watch, said George Whitfield, a quarterbacks coach who is also working with Auburn’s Cam Newton. He said Georgia received initial clearance to allow Roper to throw to Green, projected by most as the draft’s top receiver.
The 48 representatives from 30 NFL teams – including Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney – were permitted to watch other Georgia players work out, including outside linebacker Justin Houston, offensive lineman Clint Boling and inside linebacker Akeem Dent.
After final word came from the league office that scouts and coaches couldn’t watch Green, they left before Green was joined by former Bulldog receiver Kris Durham and fullback Shaun Chapas in the pass-catching drills.
Scouts were given the option of watching a live online showing on ESPN3.com in a Butts-Mehre meeting room, but no more than two did, a Georgia official said.
There’s plenty of film available from Green’s three seasons at Georgia, where he finished third all-time with 2,619 receiving yards. He also worked out at the NFL combine in Indianapolis in February.
“I think most people know what kind of player he is already,” said Green’s agent Ben Dogra.
Several projections have Green, who left after his junior season, going fourth overall to Cincinnati. On hand Tuesday were Bengals’ offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and receivers coach James Urban, who chatted with Green.
“I think I’m going to go in there and contribute to a ballclub right away,” Green said. “I don’t want to be just a regular receiver. I want to be mentioned as one of the greats.”
Roper played last year at Montana, an FCS school, where he threw for 2,836 yards with 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Under NFL rules, players can go through a pro day at their school or in the metropolitan area of the players’ hometown.
The metropolitan area, an NFL spokesman said, is determined by the location of the high school attended by the player or the legal residence of his parents.
Former Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford was in attendance, but could not participate anyway because of the NFL lockout. Green would have been allowed to have an NFL assistant throw.
Green was pleased with his workout.
He missed one out route of about 25 yards.
“I don’t think I had any drops,” Green said. “That low one hit my foot. I think I was pretty good today.”
There was one brief scary moment when Green chased down an overthrown ball in the end zone and tumbled into a rope bordering the field.
That drew an audible gasp by family, friends, teammates and media watching and scared Dogra just a bit.
“I caught myself,” Green said. “I had on some gloves, so I’m all right. I didn’t see the rope until the last minute. I was like, ‘Man.’ ”
The wide receiver drills were the only thing that the 6-foot-4 Green did on Tuesday besides get weighed – he was 204 pounds. He let stand his 4.48 40 time from the combine.
The NFL lockout has Green unsure about whether he will go to New York for the April 28-30 NFL draft and walk across the stage to shake commissioner Roger Goodell’s hand.
“That would be nice if they get everything worked out,” Green said.
n Notes: Green worked out days after Pro Football Weekly reported that he scored a 10 on the Wonderlic, among the five lowest scores of this year’s draft prospects on the intelligence test. Green couldn’t confirm his exact score. “I went through about 20 questions,” Green said.
“I didn’t even finish. I was thinking too much. I didn’t want to skip any questions.” Said Dogra: “I think at the end of the day, it’s going to be a nonfactor. …He’s smart. He’s intelligent. You can’t have this level of success at this level if you’re not doing something right.”
Green said he isn’t worried if teams consider the Wonderlic when evaluating him.
“If you come back here and look at my grades, you know I’m no dummy,” he said. … Houston said he got a second-round grade from the NFL underclassmen advisory board. ESPN’s Todd McShay projects Houston to the Atlanta Falcons with the 27th overall pick.
Some 3-4 teams are looking at Houston as an outside linebacker, but the Falcons run a 4-3 defense.
He said he will work out for Atlanta on Friday.
“I’d love to play for the Falcons,” Houston said. “Growing up in Georgia, playing for Georgia and then to play for the Falcons would be great. That would be amazing.”
Houston on Tuesday improved on his 4.62 combine 40 time by some stopwatches.
… Boling said most teams like him more as a guard than as a tackle, but said “they like my versatility of being able to play both.” … Durham, considered a third day pick at best, might have helped himself. He ran a 4.43 40, had a 10-1 broad jump and a 35 3/4 vertical leap. There were 14 Georgia players that worked out, but several let their combine results stand. End Kiante Tripp had the most reps on the 225-pound bench press with 24.