There weren’t a whole lot of rookies in the 2019 NFL regular season that put on a better performance than wide receiver Hunter Renfrow. In fact, there weren’t a lot of wide receivers in general that had a better finish to the year than Renfrow in 2019. But it would have been hard to believe after six weeks into the season. In 2019, the Las Vegas Raiders’ rookie receiver had the league’s highest overall OSM grade by the end of the year after a really slow start to the season. Today, we’ll take a deeper look at these stats to see if it’s possible for Renfrow’s explosive performance to carry into 2020.
Renfrow was selected during the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders as the 149th overall pick. He was put to work right away playing as a starter during Week 1 against the Denver Broncos. The first half of the season was fairly quiet for Renfrow, but he slowly became one of Derek Carr’s favorite targets as the season progressed.
But just as he started to break out, Renfrow’s season was unfortunately cut short during Week 12 when he left the game with a substantial injury. By the end of the season, Renfrow had been targeted 71 times for 49 receptions, 605 yards, and four touchdowns.
OSM and Hunter Renfrow
The Offensive Share Metric was created as a grading scale to get a better picture of a player’s individual production value for their offense. A player with a higher OSM grade that week was more responsible for the total output of their offense than their on-field counterparts with lower grades. For 2019, Renfrow’s overall OSM grade was a 39.00 — the highest recorded overall OSM grade among all receivers for that season.
The best wide receivers in the NFL, usually experienced players with four to seven years of experience, will put up OSM grades in the high thirties (40+ is considered an Elite grade). For comparison, Saints superstar wide receiver Michael Thomas had an overall OSM grade of 38.31 last season.
A week-to-week look at Renfrow’s year paints a better picture of his production. Renfrow was actively involved with the Raiders’ offense during eight games in 2019, including a fairly non-existent first half of the season. Of those eight games, he recorded six OSM weekly grades that were top-tier, well above average grades for NFL wide receivers — four of those six were Elite grades north of 40.00.
These grades are a direct result of the big plays that Renfrow was able to create for himself after showing out during the second half of the year. For each reception, he averaged 6.8 yards after the catch. This was the 11th highest YAC average in 2019.
Where Renfrow truly impresses
But it’s not just after the catch where Renfrow shines. Through his footwork and speed, he averaged an impressive 3.5 yards of separation between his nearest defender at the time the play is made — the seventh-highest last season.
Renfrow seemed to have turned a corner mid-year and could get open no matter who was defending him. Across Renfrow’s just last seven games of the season, he recorded 35 receptions for 491 yards and four touchdowns.
The Raiders offense was able to build on this momentum to capture some wins along the way as well. Of those last seven games, the Raiders won all but just three of them. Those three losses included two games that were very close with a final deficit of less than three points, the third was the game that Renfrow left early with the injury.
The verdict on Renfrow in 2020
Renfrow took some time to get going last season. He was very quiet for the first half of the season but was able to really turn it on about midway through the year. Just as he really began to crank out some serious stats, he was sidelined with a brutal injury for several weeks to recover.
But that later part of the season he was just exceptional. Renfrow created some big yardage gainer plays when it needed to count and helped the Raiders pick up some valuable wins for their season. Even with less than 50 catches on the season, he was able to create some serious yardage and grab four touchdowns along the way.
If the second half of 2019, Renfrow displayed his true capabilities and ceilings as a receiver, and he can be a next-level slot receiver for the Las Vegas Raiders. Lined up alongside Tyrell Williams and Darren Waller, the Raiders offense is starting to really take form. If Renfrow can keep this momentum building that he established in 2019, his sophomore year in the NFL should be something to watch.
Thoughts on this feature? Something you would like to see during the offseason? Follow us on Twitter or join in on the conversation on Facebook. You can also check out my other articles from 2019 and 2020 here.