When the Oakland Raiders traded wide receiver Louis Murphy to the Carolina Panthers for a conditional undisclosed draft choice, they made a statement that they believe in rookies Juron Criner and Rod Streater. The two wide receivers have been impressive in offseason workouts, earning praise from the coaching staff and players.
Criner is a fifth round selection in the 2012 NFL Draft out of Arizona. In college he was ultra-productive making 209 career receptions for 2,859 yards and 32 touchdowns. At 6-3, 220 pounds, Criner is the perfect complement to the Raiders explosive receiving core. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford are all know for their speed. While Criner has NFL speed, his great attributes are his ability to use his size to go up and get balls and his hands.
“When you stick out like that, being a young guy, and you’re kind of the guy that everyone’s talking about, made the most plays; it gets guys excited,” quarterback Carson Palmer said of Criner during OTAs. “It makes other guys at the same position realize that there’s going to be a lot of competition there.”
Streater has ascended up the Raiders depth chart. The undrafted free agent out of Temple has worked his way to first team reps during offseason workouts. When Moore injured his hamstring during the Raiders' last mini-camp, Streater stepped up to take his place in the first team offense. Running solid routes and catching the ball very well has separated Streater from the rest of the wide receivers fighting for roster spots. At 6-3, 200 pounds, Streater is another big receiver that should help the Raiders in the red zone and on third down.
“He’s caught the ball extremely well,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said of Streater during mini-camp. “He’s run very good routes. He knows how to get open. He’s been an explosive receiver and again, he’s still a young guy, so he’s still learning, he’s still making those young rookie mistakes, but from an athletic standpoint, from a skill set standpoint, he’s impressed.”
With Criner being a later round pick and Streater going undrafted, expectations were not high for either player. Now with solid showings this offseason, both players not only look like they will make the team, but they will be strong contributors. Both will have to continue to improve in training camp to give the coaches the confidence they will need to trust them in regular season games. If they can keep improving, look for Criner and Streater to help the Raiders deep and talented receiving corps.
Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.