In 2008 he played in all 13 games and made eight starts. He was fifth on the team in receiving with 14 catches for 164 yards. His first career touchdown was a 40-yarder at UNLV, which was also a career-long. He also had two carries for 18 yards, including a 14-yard run against Fresno State.
2010 was another good year for Green. He was one of 32 players -- and the only WAC player – on the preseason Watch List for the John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end. He had been named preseason first-team All-WAC by Phil Steele, The Sporting News, Lindy’s and Blue Ribbon College Football. Was a preseason second-team pick by Athlon. For his final year at Nevada he finished with career highs. He made 35 receptions for 515 yards averaging 14.7 yards a reception. He also had 5 receptions for a touchdown in what was a very productive year.
Green also became a favorite target of Colin Kaepernick in the red zone. Of his 23 catches he made in the 2009 season, five of them went for TDs. It’s a percentage that the Broncos should be envious of. Last season - 2010 - he had 35 receptions for 515 yards with five touchdowns. Teams were starting to key on him in the red zone, but he remained productive and raised his average catch from 11.3 yards to 14.7 - a big improvement, mostly by running stretch routes up the seam. Green was selected All-WAC First Team for the 2010 college football season by the WAC’s nine head coaches. The coaches who went up against him had a lot of respect for the player, and that’s always something that catches your eye. If a player is tough to defend against, the opposing coaches know it and he’s the kind of guy you want on your team.
Green's an undersized, athletic, pass-catching tight end / H-back with big-play potential. He has good burst off the line and doesn't idle down in and out of his breaks but is susceptible to press coverage and doesn't exhibit great awareness against zone coverage. Possesses outstanding ball skills. Did not make a load of explosive plays in college but has a high ceiling here due to his speed and hands. Shows good effort as a blocker and could improve technique but lacks natural size and strength to excel in this area. Green could sneak into Day 2.
Does not have adequate NFL tight end size and lacks growth potential. Lacks power at the point of attack and technique needs refinement. Must improve ability to locate soft spots in zone coverage. Still developing as a route runner. Can be neutralized at the line by press coverage.
Negatives: Lacks sand in his pants and doesn't block with a lot of power. Doesn't finish blocks. Too often content with just one block attempt and fails to initiate another. Blocking technique is inconsistent across the board. More wideout than tight end at the next level. Could be pigeonholed into "just an H-Back" category.
|Ht||Wt||Arm length||Hand size||40-yd dash||10-yd split||20-ss||3-cone||Vert||Broad||BP||Wonderlic|
|6 ft 3⅜ in||249 lb||33½ in||9¼ in||4.54 s||1.57 s||4.40 s||6.90 s||42½ in||10 ft 10 in||23 rep|
If you’re looking for the most dangerous TE in this draft, Green is the difference-maker. He still needs work as a blocker. Right now, he’s a lot more punch and pop without consistent technique and strength to sustain his blocks. In fact, Green may never have the frame to add enough muscle to become a great blocker in the pros.
Although he is a willing and aggressive blocker and should develop into a technically sound player, his lack of polish will initially limit his opportunities as an every-down player. That’s O.K. If a team drafted Green as a blocker, the general manager should be fired. Green is much closer to Shannon Sharpe than Alge Crumpler.
And that physicality with his blocking carries over to Green’s ball-carrying. Because he’s a flexible, explosive athlete, Green is also very good at getting his pads low at the point of contact and bouncing off hits. What’s most impressive is that he combines his athleticism with terrific hands and toughness over the middle. He catches the ball in high-traffic areas and takes the punishment.
The team that drafts Green will be able to move him around the field as an x, y or z receiver or use him on the line because of his receiver-like skills, size and strength. If Green can add another 10 pounds and taper his reckless tendencies as a run blocker, he has the athleticism to be a statistical leader at the position.
Green finished an outstanding career at Nevada with an impressive senior season. As an NFL prospect, Green has the frame, wheels and ball skills to be an effective downfield receiver as a tight end or H-back, but is not yet a polished blocker. A fine athlete, Green will entice NFL teams that use two-tight end formations and like to throw to the H-back, and is worth a look as a wideout prospect.
About his medical issues: He was a durable three-year starter at Nevada, although he developed some injury issues early on. He had a microfracture knee surgery in 2007 that apparently scared a lot of teams away from him. The fact is teams are extremely concerned with what they considered a medical concern. There were reports of some swelling in the knee at the combime but Virgil never missed a practice or a game due to injury while at Nevada: he came all the way back after that surgery four years ago. He played his best ball after the injury, improving his stats each year as you'd expect. And that's it.
Even then - observers were also split on how effective he could be in the NFL. Some rated him as a third-round pick, while others had him as a seventh-rounder or free agent. It all depended on how you viewed him. To me - he’s been a durable, productive player, a hard-working leader, and a constant threat in the red zone who can also stretch the field as a ‘move’ TE. His blocking is a work in progress, but he’s come a long way there and the results at Nevada show it. He’s a player who, like many, needs good coaching and time to develop. And we know that from all reports he takes coaching very well, which is another plus.
The Denver Broncos selected Nevada TE Virgil Green with the No. 204 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft.
NFL Network's Mike Mayock believes that Green was taken off the draft board of several teams for medical red flags. He underwent microfracture surgery a couple of years ago and experienced knee swelling at the Combine. That didn't stop him from blowing up the Combine, however, topping several of Vernon Davis' marks in drills. Even at a rocked-up 6'3/249, Green is still on the smallish side for a tight end and grades out as a subpar blocker. He'll battle fifth-rounder Julius Thomas for playing time in Denver. As long as his knee checks out, Green possesses intriguing upside in the NFL.
The question is - is that enough? Time will tell, but so far Green has showed diligence and determination in the weight and film rooms as well as on the field. He’s probably best suited for a team that wants to develop him over time, teaching him the NFL game and playing to his strengths. He’s frequently mentioned as a natural leader, a player who wants to improve and will do whatever it takes to accomplish it, and one who has improved each year. Taken in that context, Green may be a keeper.
On his familiarity with TE Julius Thomas
“Me and Julius actually had a chance to train together so I know him a little bit. I am excited to work with him and compete with him as well.”
On whether his draft day was stressful
“No, it has not been as stressful for me. I left it in God’s hands and I knew he would put me where I fit perfectly. I know he put me in Denver for a reason and I am going to go out there and do what God asks me to do.”
On describing himself as a blocker
“I think I am a great in-line blocker. At Nevada, we ran the ball a lot. So in our offense, if you couldn’t block, you couldn’t play.”
On his plans until the a labor agreement is reached
“I have been working out with a trainer in my hometown this last week. We have been working out hard and I am focused on getting into the weight room and getting my conditioning in because I know I have to be ready at all times. I just love working hard so every day is going to be a constant staying in the weight room for an hour-and-a-half or two hours and then doing conditioning work later that day. When I get that call from the Broncos to show up, I will be ready.”
On his 42-inch vertical jump at the NFL Combine
I have always had a jumping ability. In high school, people were always laughing about how I dunked on people in basketball games.
On prior interaction with Broncos
“We talked at the combine. I talked to (Tight Ends) Coach (Clancy) Barone and he let me know that he was very interested in me. He came over and worked me out and we went over some offensive things that he wanted to show me. I kind of felt like the Broncos was one of the teams that were going to draft me. I am ready to go play.”
On playing basketball
“In high school, that was actually my main sport up until my senior year. Basketball was one of my first loves and my first passion.”
Green is similar in several ways to former Bronco Marquez Branson. He has much the same kind of talent, same size, and both have a history of medical issues, although Green’s is minimal really. Both were underestimated because their competition level wasn’t elite. Both have the potential to be used as a WR as much as a TE. If Virgil does stay healthy (and he never missed a game or practice over three seasons) and continues to improve, he’s a steal. If he doesn’t, he’s a seventh-round pick - no worries. As a late-round pick, he is more than worth the flyer they’re taking on him.
While it’s been talked about, I don’t think that Denver is going to practice squad this young man, although it’s always possible. I suspect that other teams will be looking carefully at whoever hits the PS, and exposing Green early in his career is an approach fraught with danger: You can lose him to anyone who places him on their active roster. Of course, the upside if Denver is able to stash him there is simple - it would give him a year to develop his body and his technique.
Denver’s TE coach, Clancy Barone, is one of the best. He first coached TEs for Atlanta in 2005-2006, tutoring Pro Bowl TE Alge Crumpler, and then went to the Chargers where he continued training their star TE Antonio Gates. Both Julius Thomas and Virgil Green have substantial upside that will require a steady hand from the coach. Barone was the TE coach in 2009 in Denver, before moving to coaching the OL. Barone also helped develop the blocking of Atlanta’s tight ends and helped the club average an NFL-best 171.4 rushing yards per game from 2005-06 and lead the league in rushing during each of those two seasons. He is probably as good a coaching option as a young TE player could have, and he personally worked out both Green and Thomas. Green takes coaching well, and Barone is one of the best. Perhaps that’s why Denver let Daniel Graham go even though all the remaining TEs are young players - Quinn will be seeing his third NFL season, Gronkowski his second and both Thomas and Green their first. But the talent is there to be polished and developed.
Looking at the TEs overall, it’s hard not to be impressed with the potential that Denver has accumulated. Quinn is 6’4 and 255 lb, came out as the best blocking TE in his draft class and is coming on nicely entering his third year. Gronkowski and Thomas are 6’5” and while Thomas will need to put on muscle mass (he’s only at 246 currently, but is already physically and mentally tough and will be adding weight), his potential may be up there with Gates - Thomas is consistently described as a physical freak, has the heart of a lion and works incessantly in the film and weight rooms. Gronkowski matches Quinn at 255 lb and developed visibly over last season.
Green is a different - he’s only 6’3”, but is up to 249 lb and has burner top-end speed. He’s explosive off the line, and playing from the wing will give him a quick moment to make his read and chose his gap. Green probably needs to develop better lower body strength to anchor better as an in-line blocker, but he’s already shown talent in sealing the lane in the run game. His hand placement in blocking is very good already, but he needs more ‘sand in the pants’ to hold up as an NFL blocking TE. However, he could contribute immediately as a counter to Cover-1, Cover-2 and Cover-3 schemes with his agility, quickness, straight-route technique and excellent hands when going up the seam. Denver may decide to bring him along faster by starting him in that role: It’s one that he’s well suited for.
Virgil Green has shown himself to be a gutsy, determined player, a young man with a resolute strength of purpose who isn’t satisfied with anything but his best. He’s a natural leader, and a man who understands that he needs top coaching to succeed, and who consumes knowledge with a fervor that you don’t always see. I look forward to seeing how soon he can contribute to the Broncos' offense - a lot of people saw him as the most NFL-ready TE from the 2011 Draft. Now it’s up to him to prove it.
For me, Green reminds me a lot of a former WR turned TE (H-back) that played for us. I am speaking none other than Shannon Sharpe. Too big for WR and not quite fast enough for the position. Then not big enough or strong enough to block out of the TE position. A bit of a tweener in that sense and this should be the role that Green plays, similar to what Sharpe did. Create big problems for the secondary and make plays in that second level. Will Green have the type of career that Sharpe did? Well that is to be seen but I hope that Green develops into a quality starter for the Broncos. ~ Aussie