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5 Qs: Detroit Lions 7th-round pick WR Antoine Green ‘can immediately contribute’

North Carolina site Tar Heel Blog breaks down everything you need to know about Detroit Lions rookie 7th-round pick Antoine Green.

Virginia Tech v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions needed receiver to help out after the loss of DJ Chark moved to North Carolina to play for the Panthers. They wound up getting one back from North Carolina when they drafted Antoine Green in the seventh round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

There’s a lot to like about Green from the onset. He’s a 6-foot-2 and athletic. The film shows a guy who can gain separation and can go up and make some difficult catches too.

We wanted to know more, so we reached out to Akil Guruparan of Tar Heel Blog and got some answers. Here’s what he had to say:

1. What are your overall thoughts on Greens time at North Carolina?

“I think the best way to describe Green’s time at UNC is that it was an exercise in delayed gratification. He came to Chapel Hill in the same class as Dyami Brown, another 4-star recruit at wide receiver. But while Brown started from Day 1 and quickly became one of UNC’s better receivers in program history, Green suffered a pretty grisly injury late in his freshman year, and while he healed over the offseason, in his next two years he didn’t get on the field much and looked like he didn’t fully trust his body yet when he did.

“As a senior, though, he finally started putting things together and became a consistent #2 receiver for the UNC offense, stretching defenses and winning balls down the field, and he only got better in that role as a fifth-year player—and he punctuated that year with a game-winning touchdown catch against Duke that may well have defined the 2022 season for UNC.

“I’ll have fond memories of Green as a Tar Heel, though I’d be lying if I said he won’t be a little overshadowed by having shared the field with Dyami Brown, Dazz Newsome, and Josh Downs, who are three of the program’s most dynamic receivers ever.”

2. What are his strengths?

“Green is a polished deep threat who stacks defensive backs early on vertical stems and tracks the ball really well on both sides of the field. Catching deep balls is his bread and butter; he was one of the nation’s leaders in yards per reception the last two seasons. Besides that, he’s got really solid hands: I think he only dropped two balls last season and just by the eye test, he catches balls firmly away from his body and doesn’t let it get jarred out by contact.”

3. What are his weaknesses?

“He’s not the most dynamic route runner, especially short and intermediate where agility is more important than straight-line speed, and while he’s pretty fast, he doesn’t have the kind of elite speed that somebody like Chosen (formerly Robbie/Robby) Anderson does to mitigate that a little at the NFL level. Green also isn’t much of a run-after-catch threat with defenders in front of him: while he’s capable of winning a track meet, he doesn’t break or avoid that many tackles.”

4. Why does Green get drafted in the seventh round instead of earlier? Could this be a steal?

“I’ll answer this question backwards: I think the reasons he dropped are probably pretty self-explanatory: he doesn’t really project as a three-down receiver in the NFL and he’s going to turn 24 during his rookie season. I do think he’s prepared to help an NFL team on Day 1 with the skillset he does have, and I also think the NFL has a habit of under-drafting receivers who do one or two things well in favor of guys they think can do everything at a higher level, that has to be why DK Metcalf was the last pick of the second round.

“So while I’d hesitate to call Green an outright steal at the top of the seventh, I think he was a high-value pick and somebody who can immediately contribute in select situations, which would make him more successful than the vast majority of seventh-rounders.”

5. Can Green make an immediate in Detroit? Or is he going to be a project?

“I answered this a little already, but I think Green is what he is, for better and for worse. On the negative side, I don’t know if he’s got the tools to develop into a star receiver who can be an offense’s centerpiece or even one of 2-3 offensive centerpieces. On the bright side, the skills he does bring to the table are NFL-ready and he’ll be able to do things that every offense needs: namely, stretch the field and make big plays happen.

I don’t expect him to start as a rookie, but I think you can throw him on the field on third-and-long in his first game and be better for it: maybe he gets somebody else open, maybe he gains 30 yards.”

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