As I've been researching these "hidden gems" over the last month or so, its become abundantly clear to me that the Panthers are diligently searching for another wide receiver who will give Cam and the Panthers another weapon in this vertical offense.
In a departure from "scouting" some of the potential 6th and 7th round sleepers in the 2012 draft, I've decided to move a step up for a moment by taking a look at WR Juron Criner, who will likely be selected in the 3rd or 4th round. Let's begin after the jump by scrutinizing an area of his game that is lacking.
There isn't anything about Criner's speed in the forty that suggests he could be a number one wide receiver in the NFL. In fact, he only managed to run a 4.68 at the combine, which was one of the worst times for a receiver at that event. Criner did redeem himself to some degree by running a 4.61(4.52 according to one watch) at his pro day on Monday, but even that time was performed on carpet, which is considered to be an extremely fast surface. Some scouts will tell you that as much as a full tenth of a second should be added when someone runs on carpet.
If his speed was any concern to the Panthers, they sure didn't reveal as much, because one of their scouts(and a Steelers scout) could be heard in the stands at Criner's pro day, raving about his impressive body control. But, this certainly isn't his only strength. Criner is equipped with very big hands(10 1/2) that almost never drop a pass. Moreover, his 6' 3" frame and 39 inch vertical gives him a large catch radius when going up for high passes(Cam's new best friend?).
Furthermore, Criner displays above-average explosion when coming off the line of scrimmage, and has an uncanny understanding of the nuances that are associated with being a deceptive route-runner. Personally, I don't think it was a fluke that he caught 31 touchdown passes and amassed over 2,700 total receiving yards during his final three seasons at Arizona. I firmly believe he has all the tools to become a # 1 wide receiver one day and could have a Marquise Colston type career. With that being said, I'd feel totally comfortable picking Criner in the 4th round. How about you, CSR?
WR Juron Criner's Career Stats