It’s going to be a big season for the Oakland Raiders, who must prove that the franchise is on the mend after several seasons of mediocrity. One way they can move in the right direction is by upgrading the passing game, and they need 2012 fifth-rounder Juron Criner to produce in order to do so.
After an up-and-down rookie campaign with the Raiders, Criner appears ready to take his game to the next level.
Throughout his first season in the NFL, Criner hauled in 16 passes for 151 yards and one touchdown. Although his opportunities were limited, the Arizona product showed some potential as a lengthy pass-catcher with the frame and leaping abilities to make an impact for the Raiders.
With a full season under his belt, it’ll be up to Criner to build on his first year with the Raiders and make the necessary strides to see more snaps in 2013. That starts by putting on another clinic during training camp, something that shouldn’t be complicated considering his skill set. It’s the same formula that allowed Criner to crack the Raiders’ depth chart last offseason.
Criner is a big, tall receiver at 6’3’’, 220 pounds, and does a fantastic job of using his entire frame to make plays over smaller cornerbacks. Throughout his entire collegiate career, he displayed phenomenal body control that allowed him to adjust to poorly thrown balls. With Matt Flynn and Tyler Wilson vying for the Raiders’ starting quarterback gig, Criner’s ability to reposition could come in rather handy.
Before he gets the opportunity, he’ll have to overcome some stiff competition for the No. 2 wide receiver gig. At this point, Denarius Moore has the No. 1 job locked down. Criner will be battling with the likes of Rod Streater, Jacoby Ford and Josh Cribbs for the rest of the starting snaps. If he can cut down on mental mistakes and capitalize on his physicality, Criner can easily set himself apart from the pack.
It’s going to be an interesting ride as the Raiders take stock of their receiving talent. If Criner can play to his potential, there’s no telling what kind of sophomore season he can have as a part of the Oakland air assault.