By Christian S. Kohl
Virtually everything in the NFL can be debated. A rare exception to that is the question, who is the best receiver in the NFL? Calvin Johnson and his stat lines, which resemble a successful day at quarterback, have locked down that distinction with a level of dominance perhaps never before seen at that position. With Megatron sitting atop the podium, who currently owns the title of second most dangerous receiver in the NFL: Dez Bryant or A.J. Green?
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The career statistics of the two favor Green after just a few years in the NFL. Bryant sports 3,576 receiving yards since 2010, while Green has 3,269 since 2011, having played in 12 fewer games. Green has registered 219 receptions to 251 of Bryant, while Dez owns the TD lead 35-23. A.J. is off to a faster yardage start this year 862-705, while Dez has 8 touchdowns to Green’s 5.
Green is the bigger of the two, a full two inches taller and nearly 20 pounds lighter than Bryant. Bryant is noted for using this physicality to battle for tough catches when more than one man is covering him. Both are tremendously skilled receivers in the prime of their careers, as each man is a mere 25 years old.
The youth of Bryant is far easier to fathom despite his additional year in the league. One really has to look outside the numbers to consider these two in a head-to-head contest. Bryant has probably demonstrated more exceptional playmaking ability than Green, but the personality of Dez is the determining factor for so many things. The assertions of Jason Witten, Garrett and the Cowboys’ brass that they not only tolerate but support the fiery outbursts of Dez on the sidelines are more than difficult to believe. Nobody welcomes these tantrums, especially when it appears they are the object of ridicule from a fourth year player in front of a national television audience. What is far more likely is that the talent and ability of Bryant, much like T.O., grants him a certain amount of leeway to behave as he sees fit. Unfortunately, much like Owens, Bryant pushes the envelope as far as humanly possible to the point where it seems difficult to even stand him at times.
This splits the proposition into two different questions. Owners and GM’s may rather have Bryant since they don’t have to deal with any of his antics on the field. His problems off the field, however, make him a greater cause for concern, and more difficult to comfortably sign to an extended deal. As a player or coach, my bet is most on the NFL sidelines would prefer to deal with fewer shenanigans and sit back and enjoy Green. The baggage of Bryant swings this week toward A.J. If Dez can reign in his temper and behave as well as other fiery elite receivers like Megatron and Larry Fitzgerald, there will be no stopping him. His greatest adversary is without question himself. Until that is no longer the case, Green edges him by a nose for the second best all-around package of wide receiver in the NFL today.
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Christian S. Kohl is a sports contributor for CBS Local Digital Media.