- Coley Harvey, ESPN Staff Writer
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There's really no disputing that fact considering he's already accomplished feats at this stage of his career that few other receivers in league history had at similar points in their respective careers.
But just how great is Green?
According to a panel of more than 70 NFL analysts, reporters and statisticians -- both from ESPN and outside of ESPN -- Green ranks as the 22nd greatest active player in ESPN's #NFLRANK Top 100. Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt unsurprisingly topped the list at No. 1, while Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers came in just behind him.
As for Green, the Bengals' Pro Bowler was outpaced by six other receivers and a tight end who touches the ball as often as most wideouts.
While the 22nd overall ranking might be appropriate for Green, it's debatable if he ought to be so far down the list of pass-catchers. In the two spots just ahead of Green are Atlanta's Julio Jones (20th) and the Giants' Odell Beckham Jr. (21st). A case could be made that the human highlight-reel Beckham might still need more time to prove he can be better over a long period of time than the Greens or Jimmy Grahams (the 23rd overall player) of the league. In Jones' case, injury issues have prevented him from consistently posting the same quality statistics Green has year over year.
Sure, Green occasionally has inexplicable communication issues with quarterback Andy Dalton. And sure he drops a pass or two at bizarre moments. But he's had more than 1,000 yards receiving in each of his four seasons, and is 98 catches shy of holding the most receptions in league history for a receiver through his first five seasons.
What's most interesting about where Green ended up is that he's below each of the three receivers who have gotten massive paydays this past summer. Dez Bryant (tied for sixth), Demaryius Thomas (18th) and Jones in the past month and a half signed similar contracts that will pay them each about $70 million the next five years, and give them each more than $40 million in guarantees.
Green likely is looking at a similar deal, if not a touch lower.
Far below Green, the next Bengal on the #NFLRANK Top 100 was defensive tackle Geno Atkins at No. 77. Fresh off a disappointing season in which he had just three sacks, Atkins probably ended up lower than his overall skill set might indicate.
"I still think he's the best D-tackle in his draft class," one panelist said about Atkins. That 2010 class -- of which Atkins was a fourth-rounder -- included Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy. "He's the leverage king."
So far this preseason, the dominance that led to Atkins' 12.5 sacks in 2012 and six in an injury-shortened 2013 season appears to have returned. He's been a veritable bully off the line of scrimmage.
Rounding out the Bengals on the list was Pro Bowl offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth at No. 80.
One voter mentioned that he might be the "most underrated player in the NFL."
It's true. His ability flies well under the radar, but it has nothing to do with who his quarterback is, as the blurb on him from the list suggests. Perhaps playing in the comparative media void of Cincinnati has affected his standing.
Whitworth's value as a run/pass protector has been valued, but the respect he has garnered as a leader in the Bengals' locker room the past 10 years has been worth highlighting, too. He's a big reason as to why the Bengals have become a regular postseason entrant.
308dMichael DiRocco and Coley Harvey