The next few weeks here on State of the Texans we will be doing some draft profiles of some particular players who could possibly fit into the Texans plans. We are not going to try to piece together scouting reports, but we enlist help of bloggers who actually cover the respective player and their school.
Our first draft profile starts with Arizona Wildcats Senior wide receiver Juron Criner. We get help from Kevin Zimmerman who blogs for Arizona Desert Swarm, a SB Nation blog dedicated to the Wildcats. We ask Kevin some question about Criner and get a better idea of what type of player and person the young wide receiver is.
Can you give us a little background on Juron Criner?
Criner is still fairly young as a football player, and he came out of high school more well-known in the AAU basketball circuit. He developed quite quickly into Arizona's best receiver, and though his best season was his junior one, it's safe to say he went through a lot his senior season. Now, what exactly he went through is uncertain. Before the season began, there were rumors he might not play the season due to an undisclosed illness. It turned out that a family member was ill, and Criner returned but was up and down in his final year as a Wildcat. He underwent an appendectomy, got banged up and was also called out by his coaches for not showing up at times. Those personal issues might be the bigger question marks as we approach the draft rather than anything about his game.
Do you think Criner is pro ready now? We have been seeing low grades on him.
I believe he is. I think he's faster than people give him credit for and even against the new-age NFL cornerbacks that have size that can counter Criner, he's a master at using his basketball background to go up and get passes. He could probably pack on some more pounds to his frame, as that could be part of the reason for his injuries, but there's not much more he could have done in college to help his on-field skills. I think a lot of the low grades were because of his struggles this past season, and while they shouldn't be discounted, it was obvious he can be much, much better.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of Criner's game?
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Straight up, I think it's hard to find any receiver that can catch the ball better than Criner. He rarely if ever drops a ball put in the right place, and he often times catches the balls that aren't in the ideal location (perfect example here). He's also very shifty after the catch, usually getting more yardage after contact with spin moves and by slipping tackles.
I think the weaknesses go back to what personal issues he was dealing with his senior year and if that will affect him going forward. His mental lapses weren't something noticeable at all the year prior, and I think it could be due to off-the-field personal issues. Also, I think NFL teams have to question his injuries and decide if his body can handle the physicality of the NFL. He's fast, not explosive, and that could hurt his operation off the line of scrimmage at the next level.
His success on Saturday, was it because of Nick Foles (Arizona Quarterback) or is he really that good?
I think it's fair to say it's because he's that good. Of course the familiarity of the two helps, but I'm actually in a camp that thinks Foles himself is a tad overrated, where Criner at times made the quarterback look better. Foles and Criner had a number of plays that defined Arizona's successes and three consecutive bowl appearances prior to 2011, and it's important to give them equal credit for leading the Wildcats to that success.
Where does he project in your mind as a NFL player?
I'm less of an expert than you, and of course biased in a way, but I think Criner will stick and have a solid NFL career. I'm not sure he'll ever be a Pro Bowl receiver, but his hands are just too good and his athleticism is underrated. Staying injury free and adding some weight to a thin frame will be the keys to how far he goes.
Here is Criner in action