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A couple of questions about Juron Criner’s NFL draft stock

Arizona's Juron Criner earned some second-team All-American honors last season. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Arizona Wildcats senior receiver Juron Criner hasn’t talked to the media through the preseason. His choice.

The assumption is he doesn’t want to talk about the “personal and family issues” — coach Mike Stoops’ words — that forced him to be away from the program for about a month this summer.

That’s fine. If Criner doesn’t want to talk about it, I don’t need to know the story. Fans can decide for themselves whether they need to know the story.

But, someday, the NFL is going to want to know the story.

“Whether you or I will ever know the whole story, I don’t know … but they will,” Rob Rang, a senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, said of the NFL.

NFL teams, if their spies haven’t already sussed out the details, will want to know during postseason interviews about Criner’s absence, whatever the explanation.

Rang suggests that not telling the truth (or being perceived to be not telling the truth) can be particularly damaging, especially for a prospect that could go high in the draft. Teams have to invest so much time and money on those kinds of prospects that it’s easy to look at another choice if a red flag goes up on a particular prospect.

“At the same time, if he’s a Boy Scout and he’s 100 percent healthy but he’s not good enough to play, no one would be interested anyway,” Rang said.

Definitely, teams will be interested. Criner looked excellent through camp, coming off a brilliant junior season in which he caught 82 passes for 1,233 yards and 11 touchdowns.

NFLDraftScout.com lists Criner as only the 12th-best receiver available for the 2012 draft, although those rankings are still very fluid. Criner has the talent to be much higher.

“If he has a great season, which I think he will with (quarterback) Nick Foles and that offense, he’ll get a chance to play in the Senior Bowl and show what he can do in a pro-style offense,” Rang said.

Rang said most college defenses aren’t capable of playing press coverage against spread offenses such as Arizona’s, so receivers from that kind of system will have to show scouts they can get off the ball cleanly. NFL corners will press.

“One of the questions about him is, ‘What kind of speed does he have?’” Rang said.

“If he doesn’t have the speed to burn defenders who press him, then he is going to struggle in the NFL. I have reservations about his speed. That is going to be critical for him to show he is able to get off press coverage.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the seventh installment of our 24 Hours of Arizona Football Blogging — one post at the top of every hour. Keep checking back at TucsonCitizen.com through Friday at 11 a.m. or follow the entire series with the “24 hours of blogging” tag.

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