Juron Criner: “Trust Me”

Arizona WR Juron Criner is a “Trust Me” player. See below (trust me).

Whether it was in a stadium, the park, the street, or your friend’s back yard, I know you’ve been in a situation where you knew you could take the man assigned to you. All you had to do was convince your quarterback. The fewer the words, the better.

“Trust me.”

Larry Fitzgerald and Brandon Lloyd are the ultimate “trust me” players. Kurt Warner said during the Cardinals Super Bowl season that his rapport with Fitzgerald didn’t take off until he learned to trust the superstar receiver with throws that he rarely made otherwise. Despite the fact that Kyle Orton is destined to remain a reserve with borderline starting potential for the remainder of his career, he had a rapport with Lloyd that helped demonstrate to NFL defenses just how good the journeyman receiver is. University of Arizona wide receiver Juron Criner isn’t fast, he isn’t a strongman at his position, but his game screams “trust me,” louder than he could ever say it.

Here’s one of several plays I’ve seen from Juron Criner that says “trust me.” He’s one of my favorite players in this rich draft class of receivers. He may not be a safe pick, but I like intuitive players with strong hands and awareness of their body in space.

The play is a seven-yard touchdown reception against UCLA with 14:31 in the half. Criner runs a corner fade in tight coverage and the quarterback’s throw is not placed at an optimal spot for Criner to turn away from the corner, use his back to shield the corner from the pass, and extend his arms to the ball while monitoring the boundary. No, this is a “trust me,” play.Throw me the ball and I’m gonna get it.

This corner fade isn’t an optimal situation for Juron Crinor, but some players are made for making lemonade out of lemons.

Criner tracks the ball’s trajectory and it isn’t heading where he can turn away to make the play. If he’s going to make this catch, it’s going to be facing down the corner head-to-head. The first thing Criner does well is have his elbows high. He’s going to need to extend his arms to this ball if he wants any chance of making the catch or give an official a clear opportunity to call interference on the defender attempting to keep those arms down.

With elbows over the shoulders of the defender, Criner makes the reception by looking the ball into both hands extended to either side of the UCLA DB’s helmet.

The rest of his play is concentration and hand strength. Criner manages to lift the ball over the defender’s helmet while keeping pace with the defender so he doesn’t have the headgear knock the ball loose.In fact, Criner signals “touchdown” for the official in the next frame.


Here’s another view of the catch.

Step A – elbows high, eyes on the ball.
Step B – catch with the fingers.
Step C – Secure the ball.

For analysis in even greater depth at every skill position, purchase the Rookie Scouting Portfolio (this is just an ice cube chipped off an iceberg – trust me).  Pre-order the 2012 RSP and buy past RSPs (2006-2011) here.

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