June 28, 2011

Rookie Bio - Virgil Leo Green

Virgil Leo Green (born August 3, 1988) is now an American football tight end for the Denver Broncos. He played college football at Nevada.

Date of birth: August 3, 1988 (age 22)
Place of birth: Tulare, California
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight: 249 lb (113 kg)
Arm Length: 33 1/2 in.
Hand Size: 9 1/4 in.
College: Nevada
Conference: WAC
Position: TE

Born Virgil Leo Green on Aug. 3, 1988 he is the son of Sharon and Virgil Green. Green is the eldest of two. Virgil’s younger brother, Jeremiah, was also on the Nevada team last season, playing as a reserve linebacker. He’s hoping to follow in the steps of his older brother and to build himself from a reserve to a starting role. Green majored in general studies. Green enjoys playing basketball and reading the Bible in his free time.

High School

Green is a graduate of Tulare Union High School in Tulare, Calif. He was a first-team All-East Yosemite League selection and a two-time selection to the All-County team. Green had 61 catches for 1,014 yards and 12 touchdowns in his high school career, he even had 13 catches for 245 yards and four touchdowns in a single game. He was a three-year letter winner in football and also lettered four years in basketball and once in track & field.


For his first year at Nevada, 2006 he redshirted the season and missed spring drills while recovering from an injury. The 2007 season he played in all 13 games with no starts. The bulk of his playing time came on special teams. He earned a first career varsity letter.

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.

The 2009 season he really came on strong. He was named the Nevada Strength and Conditioning Athlete of the Year. He also earned All-WAC honors for the first time in his career as he was named to the second team. He was tied for third on the team in receiving as he set career highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns. He started all 12 regular season games and was one of a team-record nine players (and the first this season) to earn the program’s prestigious Striker Awards for consistant and dominant play. He also helped pave the way for the nation’s top rushing offense, a record-breaking group that became the first team in NCAA history to have three players rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. He was named first-team Preseason All-WAC by The Sporting News, second-team Preseason All-WAC by Athlon Sports and first-team Preseason All-WAC by Lindy's.

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.

From the performance that he’d given at Nevada, scouting reports ranked him anywhere from a third-round pick to an undrafted free agent. Depending on the source, he’s either a tough blocker with substantial receiving skills, or a half-baked blocker who rounds off his routes, has tight hips and won’t be able to make the jump to the NFL. As is often the case, there are reasons for each of those interpretations. Statistics only tell a limited version of the truth, but looking at Green’s does explain some of the width of the spectrum of opinion on him.

After redshirting his freshman year, Green became a favorite target for quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He also spent long hours in the weight room, building his body from the 210-pound frame that he took onto the Wolf Pack’s 2007 team into the 250-pound force that head coach Chris Ault trusted to pave the way for his rushing game. Meanwhile, Green's timely receptions helped the Wolf Pack win the WAC and claim their first victory over Boise State in 10 years.

“Virgil has developed into a consistent and dominant player, not just in the passing game, but also in the rushing game,” said Ault. How much did that growth in blocking matter? Enough that Nevada became the first NCAA school to ever boast three 1,000-yard rushers in a single season - in 2009, Kaepernick gained 1,183 yards rushing, while running backs Vai Taua and Luke Lippincott compiled 1,345 yards and 1,034 yards, respectively. Complementing his blocking ability is Green’s straight-line speed, which should allow him to split Cover-2 defenses by flashing up the seam. The leadership that he showed earned him one of four captaincies at Nevada. His ability to block on the line and to hit again at the second level convinced the Broncos to use the first of their two seventh-round picks to obtain him.

As a junior at Nevada Virgil gave out 13 touchdown-resulting blocks and continued that dominating performance in 2010, as he registered TD-resulting blocks on 13 of the team’s 52 rushing touchdowns, adding six more touchdown-resulting blocks on pass plays. But, there is much more to Green’s game than just clearing out rush lanes. In his last 40 games, 48 of 72 receptions by the tight end have produced first downs (66.7%), converting 22 third-down tosses and once more on fourth down in the process.

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.

Green has great speed for a tight end. Explodes off the line and out of his breaks to gain separation. Has excellent hands. Plucks and snatches away from his frame and secures the football without losing speed. Can get up the seam and make the over-the-shoulder grab. Flashes potential as a second-level blocker. Outstanding intangibles.

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.

Positives: Three-year starter is an excellent downfield receiver with natural hands and top ball skills. Fast and elusive, good acceleration and change of direction. Excellent body control, can configure physique to get hands on off-target throws and reel them in. Runs good routes. Snatches ball with hands away from body. Can break tackles downfield and get YAC. Athletic enough for consideration as a wideout. Decent blocker when using proper technique. Durable and productive.

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.

Pre-draft measureables
HtWtArm lengthHand size40-yd dash10-yd split
20-yd split
6 ft 3⅜ in249 lb33½ in9¼ in4.54 s1.57 s
2.56 s
4.40 s6.90 s42½ in10 ft 10 in23 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.

Green has the quickness to get 15-20 yards downfield against most N.F.L. defenders, and his agility separates him from most of the tight ends in this class. When he makes a catch, he’s capable of making that quick cut, spin, or dip away from a defender and accelerate for significant yardage.

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.

Green’s broad jump and vertical leap numbers were the second-best combine numbers among tight ends since 2000 - he had a vertical leap of 42.5 inches and a broad jump of 10 feet, 10 inches. He also posted the third-best 40-yard dash time (4.54 seconds) among tight ends who ran and put up 23 reps on the bench press. Mike Mayock had rated him as the fifth-best TE in the draft. Green runs well after the catch, has quick, nimble feet and is noted for making difficult catches. He doesn’t show any hesitation in making the catch when he’s going to get hit, and his hands are excellent.

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 knocks on Green include the complaints that he shows tight hips and rounds off his routes, as well as the scouting reports that claim he is inconsistent in his blocking and struggles against press coverage. These reports always need a grain of salt as they aren’t updated when a player conquers a certain weakness. If you look at game film from late last season Green showed tenacity in his blocking, an explosive first step, and excellent hands, looking the ball into them and tucking it carefully and showing no fear of catching the ball in traffic. It’s true that he’s best suited on the wing right now, and will need to develop even more to handle in-line NFL blocking. Right now, he may be best suited for the role of a seam-running receiver who can also block well at need.

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.

Broncos Outlook

The Denver Broncos picked two tight ends in this years draft, Virgil Green happened to be the first to conduct an interview with the Denver media. Here’s what we came away with:

On transitioning from wide receiver to tight end
“Initially it was a tough transition. I went from being a high school receiver who everyone was afraid to hit to a tight end where you are hit almost every single play. Gaining weight was by far the toughest part. I have a fast metabolism and my body doesn’t like to put on a lot of weight but I ended up putting weight on and I feel fast, and I feel athletic and physical. I am hoping to bring some of my athleticism and physical ability to the Denver Broncos.”

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.

Every TE coming into the league is raw in some degree. Green will have to develop the aspects of his game that need work - flipping his hips, finishing his blocks, blocking on the second level (which he’s done well at times) and continuing getting stronger in order to be more effective at in-line blocking. That’s not his forte right now. He’s had a tendency to round off his routes at times, and can sometimes be inconsistent coming out of his breaks. However - he’s also fast, athletic, talented and listens well to coaching, something that is essential for a player who wants to make the leap to the next level. He has excellent hands, catches the ball well in traffic, seals off the lanes for the running backs (consider Nevada’s run production, of which he was a part) and plucks the ball well when at full speed and over his shoulder, something that you don’t always get even with wide receiver prospects. In short - he’s got a ton of talent, and a lot of skills, with the normal weaknesses that you’d expect from a smaller rookie TE.

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.

Julius Thomas is the Broncos' biggest hope for the future, but he may also have the longest way to go, given the years that he spent out of football. Dan Gronkowski may not have the talent of his brother Rob, but he showed rapid development in the 2010 season, following his being a part of a trade with Detroit that sent them the disappointing Alphonso Smith. Richard Quinn is anything but the disappointing bust that some media and fans have tried to paint him as. It just takes time to learn NFL blocking, as Coach Fox said. With Quinn at 6’4 and both Thomas and Gronk at 6’5”, Denver now has some big targets for the QB to use, whether as primary receivers or as check-down outlets. With the addition of a fast, tough TE with good hands and more speed than you usually see at the position in Virgil Green, Denver has covered all the bases that the position can provide.

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

1 comment:

  1. This is the final rookie bio from me, Princess was taking care of the other two guys.

    Also this will be my last post for a little while, going away for a bit, hopefully when I get back the labour issues will be solved.