While Josh Downs garnered most of the headlines when it came to UNC’s aerial offense the past two years, a good chunk of it — including all of 2022 — was spent being ably supported on the outside by Antoine Green, who overcame early-career injuries to become the deep threat that the offense needed to make sure it didn’t become one-dimensional. After struggling to see the field in his first three years in Chapel Hill, Green finally made good on the promise he’d shown as a 4-star recruit and became a reliable deep threat for the Heels, ranking among the country’s leaders in yards per reception and putting himself on the map as a draftable prospect in the NFL. He also caught a memorable game-winning touchdown against Duke in 2022 that defined the season for UNC as much as anything else. Let’s take a look at what he brings to the table:
Measurables and Production:
I will get into the numbers as needed below, but the short explanation of this chart is that it displays Green’s measurements and athletic testing as it stacks up to the history of prospects at his position. Scores are out of 10. Red backgrounds indicate significantly below average, yellow backgrounds indicate average-moderately above average, and green backgrounds indicate well above average-elite scores.
Green’s production, once he was able to get on the field consistently, was that of a solid #2 receiver. Over the last two years of his career, he caught 74 balls for 1410 yards and 12 touchdowns, for an average of over 19 yards per catch. Both years, he ranked within the top 15 receivers in the nation for that statistic, and his scoring a touchdown about every 6 touches was pretty good, too.
- Deep Threat: This is Green’s bread and butter. He has good top-end speed, running a 4.47-second 40-yard dash at the Combine, and gets to it pretty quickly when he’s running in a straight line. He uses speed releases to avoid jams when facing press coverage and is able to quickly stack opposing defensive backs when he’s going vertical. From there, he can subtly change direction without losing speed and letting the defensive back get back on him, and he’s skilled tracking the ball over either shoulder while maintaining his stride as much as possible, showing late hands just like he’s supposed to. I’ve seen him make multiple catches over his shoulder, backshoulder, on the sideline with his body as a shield, whatever a play design and coverage dictates, he can do it.
- Hands: Green is a natural hands catcher who makes a point of catching away from his frame, which allows him to use his body to shield defenders. He maintains control through contact and was charged, per Dane Brugler, with just 2 drops in 2022. He’s also got great catching technique, going from pluck to tuck smoothly and quickly without presenting a target for DBs to swipe at.
- Size: At close to 6’2 with 32-inch arms, Green’s got pretty prototypical size for a deep receiver, and he likes to use it — he loves catching balls backshoulder so he can put a defender on his back with no hope of getting through him to the ball, he boxes out on jump balls when they come his way, and he’s a physical run blocker, though he’s not always as sharp as he could be.
- Route Running: Green’s game is going deep on posts and verts, and he’s sometimes able to use his speed to force corners to play off him before he turns for a curl. He struggles to separate on routes that require him to gear down and explode out of a break, making him difficult to project as a three-down receiver. Green plays pretty much at one speed, which is great for running past defenders, but against defensive backs who are his athletic match, he doesn’t really have the moves to get them to bit or lose a step or two on him. His average agility scores only really confirm that this probably isn’t something that can be unlocked in him.
- Consistency: Watching Green can get frustrating sometimes because he won’t always make plays that he looks capable of making. While Brugler only has him with 2 drops on the season, I can recall at least three other occasions where he didn’t make a catch he should have, whether it was just an incomplete adjustment to the ball or losing cheaply at the catch point. His effort also sometimes waxes and wanes, though this was more an issue in 2021 than ‘22 — which tracks with a quarterback who didn’t always look his way when he deserved it.
- Physicality: After the catch, Green is fast in a straight line, but doesn’t run through contact very well and will get taken down pretty easily if a defender gets hands on him. And at the line of scrimmage, while he’s pretty skilled at avoiding press coverage by sprinting off the line, if a defender does get his hands on him, he’s liable to get jammed. He doesn’t use his hands very well to shed defenders at the line, though he does occasionally show an ability to use them to get a defender off him when the ball’s in the air. He’s got small hands for his size and that shows up when he tries to use them to hand-fight; they’re just not very heavy or good at redirecting defenders.
Green’s dealt with a few injuries during his time in Chapel Hill, first a nasty ankle injury late in his first year playing that took him the better part of two years to get back to game speed from, and then a collarbone injury that required surgery before the 2022 season that cost him a couple of games. I think injury scouting is relatively pointless, but I guess it’s worth noting. He’s also an older prospect as a 5th-year senior, which I think matters more for players you’re expecting to be stars than the ones you’re expecting to be role players.
Green does a job and does it well, and when I say well, I mean that I think he’ll continue to be able to do it at the NFL level. Explosive plays are the most valuable asset in offensive football, and Green provides just that with his deep-ball prowess. But wide receiver is an increasingly saturated position in the NFL and there’s less and less room for specialists like him unless they’re making something happen just about every game. Green will have to work to prove he can be that guy, but I think a guy with an NFL-ready skill like him, and a skill that can change games at that, is certainly worth a 6th round pick or so. In the right environment and with the right chances, he can certainly help a team.