Two questions came to mind about Hunter Renfrow with regard to the draft; How did he last until the 5th round and how is it the Patriots didn’t get him before the Raiders could?
Not only does he seem like the ideal slot receiver, but he seems like he has Patriot written all over him. Though when I spoke with Ryan Kantor of SB Nation’s Clemson blog Shakin’ the Southland, he disagreed that Renfrow was destined to be a Patriot.
While the Patriots have had their share of good slot receivers like Wes Welker, Danny Amendola, and Julian Edelman, they’re not the only franchise that appreciates a slot receiver with incredibly sure hands. There’s certainly an innate bias people have in making like-race comps, and the Patriots have obviously had success with plenty of white slot receivers, but I always thought that mock draft pick was incredibly lazy.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want him on the Patriots simply because they’ve proven they put good slot receivers in the position to succeed, but I’m thrilled to see him land with the Raiders where he can be with two former Clemson teammates and lead the culture change Mayock is looking for.
On possible reason he didn’t end up in New England was they may have had him pegged for the fifth round and the Raiders traded up to ensure they couldn’t get him. The Patriots made a flurry of trades in the draft, giving them plenty of ammunition to trade up and get Renfrow in the fifth round if they wanted to do that. They ended up trading up twice late in the draft into the bottom of the 5th round.
One thing that seemed strange to me was the difference between his red zone prowess and his production as well as not being drafted until the 5th round. I asked Kantor if Renfrow’s low numbers (545 yards, 1 TD) last season might have had more to do with him not being utilized properly or enough.
I’ve seen some of the talk about him being a red zone threat and I think it is a little misleading. Clemson didn’t lean on him to be the TD target. Renfrow has the best hands on the team (and in the nation) and runs sharp crisp routes in which he really accelerates through his cuts and gets separation. Without a great pass catching TE in the depth chart, the Tigers used Renfrow as their key target on crucial third downs. If the pass was relatively close, he’d come up with it. He wouldn’t turn many of those into even bigger plays with yards after the catch. He is shifty, but at 5’10” with a 4.59 40 yard-dash, that wasn’t his role. He had some superstar teammates (Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross) that played that role. Renfrow was used appropriately given the roster around him.