Hunter Renfrow has some of the best hands of any receiver in the 2019 rookie class. So why is he going so late in most rookie drafts? Here I tell you how Renfrow could be the steal of your draft.
Hunter Renfrow has only one position in the NFL and that is slot receiver. He is small in stature but big in game time experience. Recognizing mismatches is never an issue with Renfrow and always knows when he is the hot read. With great hand eye coordination Renfrow catches away from his body very well and has incredibly sticky hands.
Though he is not the fastest straight line runner, ran a 4.59 second 40 yard dash at the combine, he has great breaks that allow him to get himself open. Renfrow is being targeted as early as the 3rd round in rookie drafts but have seen him fall all the way to the end of the 5th round. Seeing some of the receivers going in front of him, Renfrow could end up being the steal of the draft.
Hunter Renfrow vs. Andy Isabella
These two get compared often due to there comparable size and stature. Renfrow is 5’8 and 184 Lbs. and Isabella stands in at 5’9 and 188 Lbs. From an athletic standpoint Isabella seems to have the upper hand having run a 4.31 second 40 yard dash compared to Renfrow’s 4.59. Look deeper though, that is just straight line speed.
Isabella recorded a 6.95 second 3-cone drill compared to Renfrow’s 6.8 second. This shows that Renfrow has the better agility and quickness needed in the slot for the short area under routes and quick routes in linebacker coverage.The two posted near identical numbers in the 20 yard shuttle. Isabella had a 36.5 inch vertical while Renfrow posted a 35 inch vertical, a stat not that necessary as a slot receiver.
Now let’s take a look at collegiate production. This comparison may also be misleading to many. Isabella has career totals of 44 games, 231 receptions, 3,526 receiving yards, and 30 touchdowns. Renfrow posted totals of 53 games, 186 receptions, 2,133 receiving yards, and 15 touchdowns. In a vacuum Isabella looks to have superior receiving numbers.
Think competition though, Renfrow played in the SEC and Isabella played in the Atlantic 10. Renfrow constantly played against NFL ready competition while Isabella rarely did. Renfrow does own the top red zone catch rate at 79.7% of any top 30 wide receiver draft prospect in comparison to Andy Isabella who owns a 55% red zone catch rate. Renfrow also owned the highest red zone yards per target at 9.7 in comparison to Isabella’s 6.8 red zone yards per target.
Hunter Renfrow is a slot receiver through and through. There is no other role for him though he landed in a nice spot with Derek Carr who does a great job with underneath throws and getting rid of the ball quickly. With Renfrow as the Raiders starting slot receiver he could easily see upwards of 5-8 targets per game. His short area quickness may help drastically in the red zone as well, an area of concern for Carr and the Raiders in 2018. In 2018 Renfrow had a 79.7% red zone catch rate at 9.7 red zone yards per target as mentioned above in the player comparison.
Andy Isabella has been said to possibly compete for an outside receiver role. The Cardinals best receivers, Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk do some of their best work out of the slot. There is entirely too much competition for the slot for Isabella to be a pure slot presence. Though he seems to have the athleticism to play outside, his size is an issue. He has never consistently faced corners with the size and speed of NFL corners and this could present an issue.
When it comes down to who would you rather draft I have to pick Renfrow. There is nobody on this team he projects to battle with for the slot receiver spot. Isabella must fight for slot snaps with Kirk and Fitzgerald while adding fellow rookies Hakeem Butler and Keesean Johnson on the outside to compete with. Renfrow has a clearer path to consistent fantasy production and his price tag is anywhere from the 3rd round to the 5th round in rookie drafts. Andy Isabella is going anywhere from the end of the 1st round to the beginning of the 3rd.
What Renfrow Brings To the Table
Hunter Renfrow may have the best set of hands in the 2019 rookie class. He is the kind of guy you throw the ball towards and he almost always comes down with the ball. Watch this clip, Renfrow beats his man at the line but a poor throw leads Renfrow to adjust and make an amazing grab:
Hunter Renfrow trying to get Clemson back in it with an ABSURD grab. pic.twitter.com/UO1RDecgRa
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 29, 2018
The fact that Renfrow makes so many tough grabs allows his quarterbacks to have great trust in him. Renfrow was the intended target of so many of Deshaun Watson’s big moment throws including the championship game winner in 2017. Here is an example of how much confidence Watson had in Renfrow as he throws real low but Renfrow still comes down with the TD:
Clemson takes a 14-7 lead on Hunter Renfrow's second TD catch of the night: pic.twitter.com/YoVEkCtXHV
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) January 12, 2016
You can not say enough about Renfrow’s route running ability. He is incredibly shifty and his breaks leave some defenders flat out falling over. Watch here as this route put highly touted NFL defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick in the dirt:
Hunter Renfrow as a sophomore against Minkah Fitzpatrick, a freshman. Made him fall down. pic.twitter.com/wxo8oNnQl9
— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) November 21, 2018
He has an uncanny ability to get open. He changes direction on a dime and creates serious separation. Watch here where it looks like Renfrow is running a deep route only to break to an out route:
Hunter Renfrow taken in the fifth round by the Raiders should contribute immediately in Gruden's offense. Thread starts now. pic.twitter.com/NSvZAiryl1
— BD Williams (@BDWilliams18) May 6, 2019
With routes like these Renfrow could easily become Derek Carr’s favorite 3rd down target. Many fear that with Antonio Brown on the team there will not be enough targets to pass around. In comparison to Brown, Renfrow should see little to no attention and should win his one on one battles no problem.
An underrated aspect of Renfrow’s game is his downfield blocking. I know he only stands at 5’8 and 184 Lbs. but he blocks like a 260 Lbs. tight end. Watch here as I have not seen a wide receiver block this vicious since Hines Ward:
Big hit Clemson football featuring Hunter Renfrow pic.twitter.com/txDyf8d5QY
— Tiger Commenter (@TigerCommenter) August 5, 2018
Here you can see Renfrow lining up as the quarterback in a wildcat formation, only to hand the ball off and make the lead block downfield for the score:
— Michael Burns (@MikeBurnsInSC) October 6, 2018
There is one thing that Hunter Renfrow does and that is win. During Renfrow’s Freshman year he was a walk-on at Clemson. By his Senior year he was named the team captain. He is a hard worker and busts his tail to be the best at what he does. Renfrow has been to two Championship Games and won both of them while also garnering Co-MVP honors during the 2017 National Championship game with Deshaun Watson.
17 receptions for 180 yards and four touchdowns was Renfrow’s stat line from two championship games. Big moments do not seem to bother Renfrow leaving the NFL transition to be an easy one for him. Renfrow brings a winning and blue collar hard work attitude to this Raiders offense, something they are severely lacking.
Hunter Renfrow is being overlooked far too much in rookie dynasty drafts. His combination of hands, route running and hard working attitude should make for a winning combination. His desire to put in the work should make Derek Carr fall in love with him and become one of his favorite targets. He will also be the safety blanket as the Raiders do not currently employ anything close to a capable tight end. Renfrow could easily be number two on the Raiders in both targets and receptions this season. The fact that they will be down a lot should help boost his value as well.
With the fact that Renfrow is going so late in rookie drafts leaves him as the most overlooked rookie receiver in the 2019 class. A finish in the top 5 in rookie receptions this season and is being drafted as more of a WR15. Be that guy and jump to get Renfrow, you will not be disappointed.