With their final pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions selected North Carolina wide receiver Antoine Green. Like with most seventh-round pick, it’s unclear if Green will make the Lions’ final roster or if he’ll have a serious role with the team.
However, we had a good 30-minute chat with North Carolina beat writer Andrew Jones of Tar Heel Illustrated, and he offered some hope that Green’s college career may have just been the tip of the iceberg.
Green had to battle through adversity in almost every single season of his five-year college career as a Tar Heel. His freshman year, he suffered a massive leg injury that cost him half the season. The next year, North Carolina uprooted their entire coaching staff. Of course, the COVID season was long after that. Then he fell behind the depth chart to three future NFL receivers in Dyami Brown, Dazz Newsome, and Josh Downs. And just as it seemed like he was going to break through in his senior season, he broke his collarbone a month before the season started.
But, despite it all, Brown persevered. He would only miss three games for the 2022 season and ended up putting up his best statistical output of his career: 43 catches, 798 yards and seven touchdowns.
“He said it was easy overcoming that injury, because he’d already overcome something much more serious” Jones said of Green’s latest injury recovery. “I think it was an example (for) some of the younger kids on the team, because they have cited him as being a guy that led—not so much vocally—but by how he went about things, how he dealt with adversity.”
That time on the sidelines—going through rehab, seeing future NFL talent take his spot on the roster—only motivated him to improve his game.
“He lost a lot of reps for a couple of years, so he really had to get better,” Jones explained. “He had to become a better route runner. He had to be better with his hands. He had to learn how to catch the ball when it’s on the inside vs. the outside better. He worked his butt off and did those things. And the player we saw last year was a guy that looked, to me, like an NFL player.”
Jones had a lot of good nuggets to tell us about Green’s time at UNC—and even gave us a little background on new Lions cornerbacks coach Dre Bly. I highly recommend listening or watching this episode, as it kicks off our 2023 Detroit Lions draft profile series.
And, as promised, here are a couple of Green’s most memorable catches, as teased by Jones in our podcast:
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