Raiders Draft Profile: Fifth-Round Receiver Hunter Renfrow

Heading into the 2019 season, Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock clearly wanted to overhaul the wide receiver position, and rightfully so. After all, once Amari Cooper was traded last year, you could argue that Derek Carr was throwing to the worst group of receivers in the NFL. Nothing against 33-year old Jordy Nelson, Seth Roberts and 2018 7th round pick Marcell Ateman, but they weren’t striking fear into opposing defenses. 

Now here we are, a little over four months from the end of the 2018 season and the Raiders have added Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, Ryan Grant, and JJ Nelson via trades and free agency. 

Safe to say, the term “overhaul” was no exaggeration.

The additions to the group were not done, however, as Jon Gruden picked up Clemson’s Hunter Renfrow in the 5th round of the draft and also signed Keelan Doss as an undrafted free agent. 

Although the WR unit is stacked, I like Renfrow’s chances to make the final 53 and maybe even have a nice role as a rookie. Plus, he’s used to uphill battles – it’s kind of his thing.

Let’s dive into this kid… what is he about?

Renfrow is a South Carolina native, finished high school as a 2-star recruit and had a few offers to play both baseball and football as a collegiate athlete. None of the offers were from Clemson, and none of them had the prowess of a big time school. He wouldn’t take no for an answer, so he enrolled at Clemson and walked on to the football team.

That was a bold, confident move that took some brass balls.

Fast forward to January 2017 and Renfrow was catching the game winning touchdown with :01 left in the national championship game against Alabama.

Not bad for a walk on, huh?

Of course, he’d go on to be part of another title team this past season.

What is he good at?

When you watch his film, his intelligence and understanding of defenses stands out. He consistently finds the crevices in zone coverage and seems to process what the defense is trying to do at a high level.

Anytime you read a player profile and the term “hands are like glue” are included, that’s a good thing. Renfrow’s film speaks to that, as he catches everything, even with his tiny 7 7/8” hands.

Renfrow also has a really nice skill set in the open field, as he knows how to make defenders miss and will fight for a first down. He doesn’t do it with supreme speed or overwhelming physicality, but with awareness and body control. He just seems to have a knack for it – he’s a natural. Some might peg him as less than stellar in contested catch situations (due to his size), but plays like this suggest otherwise . . . 

Why is Renfrow a fit in Gruden’s offense?

Think back to last pre-season, when it was getting close to cuts, as Gruden was strolling out Griff Whalen and Ryan Switzer in slot receiver roles. Gruden had plans for a nifty, shifty pass catcher inside. Obviously, they both didn’t impress (enough), so ol’ Chucky scrapped the idea, waived Whalen and traded Switzer prior to Week 1.

I really feel like adding Ryan Grant and a youngster like Renfrow can give Gruden the personnel to go back to his plans of a year ago.

I’m not going to say he’ll never get vertical (it won’t happen often), but the Doogie Howser lookalike could be a short-game weapon. A player like that is needed when Carr can’t hit Brown or Williams downfield due to coverage or edge pressure.

Something else Carr will like about Renfrow are his consistent hands and catching ability. We all know DC has dealt with an insane amount of drops in his years with the Raiders… and we’re all tired of it. 

At the end of the day, I believe Renfrow will earn his keep, even if it’s in more of a depth role his rookie season behind Grant. The talent, intelligence, work ethic, and leadership qualities are all there. It just needs to translate. I suspect it will.

 twitter: @KrisWysong