It’s been a year since Juron Criner lit up Oakland Raiders training camp. Now headed into his second season in the NFL, the former fifth-round pick is going to have to prove that he can turn heads during the regular season as well.
Heading into the 2013 campaign, the Raiders are hoping to see an increase in production from their gaggle of talented wide receivers. One of those pass-catchers with high expectations hanging around his neck is Criner, who flashed some potential to be a playmaker during his 2012 rookie season.
Last year, Criner hauled in 16 passes for 151 yards and one touchdown, averaging 9.4 yards per catch. While his on-field opportunities were limited – 12 appearances, 169 snaps – he still managed to make an impact when the Raiders called his number. With a full year in the pros under his belt, Criner appears primed for a breakout year in Oakland.
Before he can see consistent snaps, though, Criner will have to work his way up a surprisingly stout Raiders depth chart.
With Denarius Moore entrenched as the starting receiver, the Raiders will be looking for a couple of their young receivers to step up and lock down the No. 2 and No. 3 spots. Criner will be in the middle of heated battle between Jacoby Ford, Rod Streater, Josh Cribbs, Brice Butler and Connor Vernon to earn a prominent role in the Raiders passing attack.
Using his outstanding size (6’3’’, 221 pounds) and ability to make in-air adjustments to passes, Criner shouldn’t have too much trouble carving out a role with the Raiders in 2013. The first step, though, will be to put on another stellar performance during training camp.
It should be a big year for Criner as he continues his quest to prove that his fall to the fifth round was a mistake. He already did damage during OTAs, and should keep pace once training camp rolls around.