Juron Criner a value pick for the Oakland Raiders in NFL Draft

Former wideout Juron Criner was selected 168th overall by the Oakland Raiders in the 2012 NFL Draft on Saturday, and being taken in the fifth round should be considered quite a solid grab for a team trying to grow itself some prospects for quarterback Carson Palmer to target.

Some would say that Criner was a second- or third-round talent after going for 1,233 receiving yards his junior season. After the 2010 season, the Arizona Wildcats receiver looked like he'd have a senior season to earn himself a hefty rookie contract in the next year's NFL Draft, but injuries and a mysterious illness prior to the season hurt him.

Criner finished with 956 yards and 11 touchdown catches in his senior go-around nonetheless.

What does Criner bring to the Raiders?

While they have some speed in their receiving corps with guys like Darrius Heyward-Bey, the 6-foot-3 former basketball player brings size and amazing hands to Oakland. While he might be considered a project, I'd say that's a little bit of a misconception.

Yeah, he's only been playing organized football for a few years, but when his head is right -- it wasn't, as his coaches subtly called him out this past year -- he's as good as any receiver in college football in jump ball situations.

I also believe he's a better route-runner than people give him credit for, again, if his head is on straight.

While his straight-away speed is to be desired after he performed at the combine, he often found a way to separate himself from college cornerbacks.

He's also going to give the Raiders a physical presence after the catch. He's slippery and can take a hit, but that's where injury problems might be an issue. Criner was banged up beyond an appendectomy this season, and through his career had various injuries that were likely a result of taking hits.

Overall, this is a solid value pick. The fifth round is where you take risks on guys that could turn out to be nothing but just might be stars.

Criner is just that.

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