Juron Criner #84
Weight: 224 lbs
Arm Length: 32.0″
Hand Size: 10.4″
40 Yard Dash: 4.68
3 Cone Drill: 7.15
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.30
Bench Press: 17 reps
Vertical Jump: 38″
Broad Jump: 117″
Juron Criner who was drafted in the 5th round by the Raiders this year has put an early stamp on this team as well. His draft projections were all over the place depending on who you asked because of one main factor, he doesn’t have great speed. Yes, you read that correctly, it’s truly a new era in Oakland.
While his speed obviously hurt his draft stock, many were surprised to see him fall all the way to the 5th round after getting some 2nd round grades based on his size, polished route running and soft hands. That was probably one of the main factors in the Raiders drafting him. He was very good value in the 5th round and has proven that early on in mini-camp and OTA’s.
Criner is in a very similar situation that Denarius Moore was in last year. He has the chance to come in without a lot of added pressure being a late round pick and work hard to earn the respect of players and coaches while showing what he can do on the field. That is exactly what he has done to this point, and it has not gone unnoticed by the coaches or the media.
Criner will be one of those guys pushing to earn his playing time in training camp. He has the ability to be a red zone target at 6’3″ and 220 lbs and has shown his ability to adjust when the ball is in the air and make great catches using his soft hands. His progression will be monitored closely, but he has the chance to make a very big contribution to the offense even in his first year if he continues to improve every day.
Jacoby Ford #12
Weight: 186 lbs
Arm Length: 30.4″
Hand Size: 9.3″
40 Yard Dash: 4.28
3 Cone Drill: 7.0
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.44
Bench Press: 15 reps
Vertical Jump: 33.5″
Broad Jump: 115″
That brings me to Jacoby Ford who is an interesting story. A fan favorite from the beginning, his electrifying attributes can not be ignored by anyone. He has the ability to score anytime the ball is in his hands which is the type of player that will give a defensive coordinator gray hair at an early age.
His play on the field, however, has been up and down. After bursting onto the scene as a rookie averaging nearly 19 yards per catch and being remembered for his contributions in multiple late game comebacks, he had what many would call a sophomore slump last year.
Struggling to stay on the field due to injuries in his second season, Ford played in just 8 games while starting only 3. His 19 catches and 1 touchdown last year left a lot of people wondering if he could still be counted on as a consistent receiver in the offense going forward.
His size does not do him any favors either as he won’t be winning many jump balls at 5′ 9″. That limits his time spent split out wide in the offense, although he has proved he can make plays from that position at times. His speed will always present match up problems for slower corner backs.
Lets not forget Ford’s value to the return game as well. He has amassed 1,621 yards returning with an average of 25.3 yards per return and 4 TD’s in 2 years. The rule change by the NFL to move the kickoff up to the 35 yard line has limited the impact on kick returns though. You are now seeing more kickoff’s going out of the back of the end zone and players having to make a decision on whether to bring the ball out from 6-8 yards deep in order to have a chance at breaking a long return.
Ford has yet to get involved much in the punt return game to this point. Overall this season will be very telling for Jacoby Ford. Will he return to the form we got used to seeing in his rookie year and have a big part in the offense or will he become more of a situational type player and return specialist? He is currently in-line to be the teams 3rd receiver but will see plenty of competition for that role in training camp.
Darrius Heyward-Bey #85
Weight: 210 lbs
Arm Length: 38 5/8″
Hand Size: 9″
40 Yard Dash: 4.3
3 Cone Drill: 6.8
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.18
Bench Press: 16 reps
Vertical Jump: 38.5″
Broad Jump: 126″
The projected starter along side Moore is currently Darrius Heyward-Bey. Darrius’ road to this point has been rocky to say the least. After having a forgettable rookie season he has steadily improved his game each of the last 2 years and finally began to “breakout” last year hauling in 64 catches for 975 yards and 4 scores.
While there are still many things Heyward-Bey has to improve with his game, there are also many things to like about him. He excels at down field blocking in the running game which is very under-rated by many because it doesn’t show up in a stat line. It’s also hard to find someone to plays harder or has a better work ethic than Heyward-Bey. The improvement in his game reflects those things as well.
Much like Moore though, Heyward-Bey also has more responsibility than just his own game now. He will need to lead both verbally and by example for these younger players who are in a position he was in not too long ago. His consistency will be important this year as he tries to put it all together and become a primary target in the offense. The window for “getting up to speed” is closing for Darrius. It’s time for him to step up and reach his full potential that Al Davis saw in him back in 2009.
Denarius Moore #17
Weight: 194 lbs
Arm Length: 33.0″
Hand Size: 9.399″
40 Yard Dash: 4.43
3 Cone Drill: 6.78
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.15
Bench Press: 13 reps
Vertical Jump: 36″
Broad Jump: 118″
Denarius Moore will be the most interesting player to watch this year. He was a 5th round pick in the 2011 draft and viewed as a young project receiver at the time. That is until the lockout ended and training camp got under way last year. Coaches and fans alike quickly learned that Moore was wasting no time in making his mark in the league.
Moore consistently went out and made play after play in camp and had everyone buzzing. Of course, it’s always tough to really put a final judgement on a player in camp. Many tempered their expectations until seeing him in game action.
Something was different about Moore from the beginning and it was obvious if you were paying close attention. He was not looking for media attention and had no interest in anything other than going to work on the football field. His famous quote, when asked if he considered himself a ‘playmaker’ he responded, “I’m not a playmaker–I just make plays.”
Moore continued his success throughout camp and the preseason earning his way onto the field quite a bit as a rookie. Of course, some of that playing time was aided by numerous injuries to players ahead of him on the depth chart to start the season.
Moore had a pretty impressive rookie campaign grabbing 33 balls for 618 yards and five touchdowns. As can be expected out of any rookie, he disappeared at times. He will have to work more on being a complete receiver rather than just a home run target in 2012.
Moore will be the most interesting player to watch this season because he is now viewed as one of the go to guys if not the number one option out of the wide receivers. That role is much different than the unknown rookie 5th round pick.
Only three wide receivers on the roster have more NFL experience than Moore, with the oldest receiver being just 25 years old. Moore is now looked at as one of the veteran leaders of the group and how he handles that new role as well as the transition to a new offense will be very important to the success of the offense in 2012.
Can he take on the added pressure and continue to amaze?