Can Greg Little be better than Julio Jones?

Who knows?

Some clueless Browns fans were upset that the Browns passed on Julio Jones and took the incredible trade offer from Atlanta. Jones may turn out to be a great receiver, but the main reason Jones was rated so highly has to do with his physical skills. He comes from a high-profile program and he wowed scouts at the combine. That said, Jones has a problem at times catching the football (like Braylon Edwards) and he didn’t exactly rack up big stats at Alabama.

With one of the extra picks the Browns received from Atlanta, they selected North Carolina wide receiver Greg Little in the second round. Take a look at the photo above. This guys looks just as imposing as Julio Jones.

Let’s compare the two. Both are big receivers. Jones is 6′ 3″ and 220 pounds, while Little is 6′ 2″ and 230 pounds. Jones has more speed according to his 40 time, though many argue that he didn’t display that speed on the football field. Meanwhile, Little is the strongest receiver in the draft. Both can excel in a West Coast offense where receivers get the chance to run after the catch. Little used to be a running back, so he’s hard to bring down. He also has an amazing vertical leap so he’ll be an asset in the red zone.

Yet when you read the scouting reports, the issue of “ball skills” runs in favor of Little.

Here’s the Scouts, Inc report on Jones:

Flashes strong hands and makes some spectacular catches. Shows the ability to contort his body and adjust to poorly thrown ball. Shows excellent awareness and body control along sidelines. Does a nice job of timing leaps when attacking the jump ball. However, he drops more ‘catchable’ balls than he should. He occasionally will allow ball into frame on occasion. Also will suffer from some focus drops. Needs to be more consistent in this area.

Now read what they say about Little:

Possesses strong and natural mitts. Catches the ball with hands and rarely lets ball into frame. Adequate sized hands (9 1/8′) and arms (33 ΒΌ’). Body control is above-average and can consistently pull in ball thrown outside of frame. Also flashes ability to elevate, fully extend and bring in acrobatic grab (See 1st QTR Pitt 2009). Tracks the deep ball well and flashes ability to pull in over the shoulder catch.

While Jones is more spectacular, Little is rated much higher by scouts when it comes to catching the football – something that’s quite important for a receiver!

This comparison highlights why the Browns had to make the trade with Atlanta. More picks give you more chances to strike gold.

Little fell to the second round because he took some improper benefits at North Carolina and was suspended for a season. But if you look at his skills, he has the potential to be as good or better than Jones. It will be fun to see how this plays out.

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Corner or receiver . . .

University of Alabama quarterback TC McCarney (8) runs for a first down past Louisiana State University cornerback Patrick Peterson (7) during their NCAA football game in Baton Rouge, Louisiana November 6, 2010. LSU won the game 24-21. REUTERS/Sean Gardner (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Patrick Peterson is getting stiff-armed above, but many consider him to be one of the best players in the 2011 NFL Draft next week. He’s big for a corner, has tremendous ball skills and runs a 4.3.

I think Tom Heckert will take him if he’s there at #3, barring some other big surprises. I suspect the have Marcell Dareus at the top of their board, and he wold be the easy pick if he slid to #6, but that’s not happening. The other big wild card involves the receivers. I suspect both A.J. Green and Julio Jones are high on the Browns’ draft board. If Green and Peterson are both there at #6 (highly unlikely), then the Browns will have a tough decision. Von Miller also has to be high on their board, but he’s expected to be gone as well.

All of the defensive linemen after Dareus seem to have question marks. Robert Quinn seems to be on their radar and Terry Pluto thinks he might be the pick, but I suspect the Browns think they can pick up linemen later and they can’t pass on stud talents like Peterson, Green or Jones.

That said, they might have a chance to trade down depending on what happens with the quarterbacks in the first five picks.

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