With what feels like the snap of a finger, the 100th season of the NFL is just over a week away from ending. The Kansas City Chiefs will face off against the San Fransico 49ers in a Miami showdown for the Lombardi Trophy. For the other 30 teams, it’s time to evaluate the talent on the roster from the previous regular season to determine what moves the franchise needs to make in the offseason. While adding another receiver could round out the group, Raiders rookie wide receiver Hunter Renfrow provided the Oakland Raiders with a reliable and experienced set of hands for quarterback Derek Carr.
A two-star recruit back in high school, Renfrow walked onto the Clemson Football team. At a meager 5’10” and 155 pounds, he took a redshirt during his freshman year and gained 20 pounds. Renfrow bulked up to 176 and earned a scholarship to start his redshirt freshman season in 2015. Renfrow played in all 13 games and started in 10 during the 2015 season, gaining 492 receiving yards and five touchdowns. He was a part of two National Championship victories, 2016 and 2019, and caught the winning touchdown from former Tigers QB Deshaun Watson to ice the game in the former. Renfrow also won the Burlsworth Trophy, awarded to the best college player who began their career as a walk-on during the 2018 season.
Renfrow entered the 2019 NFL Draft as a redshirt senior and in a deep class of wide receivers was selected on Day 3 by Mike Mayock and the Raiders. Again size plays a factor, but the proof was in the pudding that Renfrow was ready for the big stage. He played in 13 games and caught 49 of his 71 targets for 605 yards and four touchdowns. Renfrow saw the second-most targets from Carr behind tight end Darren Waller and also caught the second-most passes for the Raiders.
According to Pro Football Networks Offensive Share Metric, Renfrow not only leads rookie receivers but all receivers earning an OSM grade of 39 during the 2019 season. While his overall stats didn’t jump off the page, it was what he did on the field that set him apart from other receivers. Renfrow found space against his opponent’s coverage and was able to turn those opportunities into positive yards after the catch then.
When looking at the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Renfrow was ranked 6th highest among wide receivers in 2019 in the average cushion given by the defensive back on all targets at the time of the snap, yards after the catch per reception, and in yards after catch differential. He also had the second-highest average separation having 3.5 yards of separation at the time of the catch/incompletion on all targets.
Renfrow consistently finds his spot and then fights through contact to gain as many yards as possible on each of his receptions. He had two touchdowns of 50+ yards this past season, and on both, Renfrow caught the ball around five yards past the line of scrimmage, sustained first contact, and took it to the house. Here’s his 65-yard scamper versus the Houston Texans in Week 9.
— NFL (@NFL) October 27, 2019
With the 2020 season on the horizon, the Raiders are in for quite the year. As of the 2020 season, the team will be moving from Oakland to Las Vegas. To celebrate this arrival, the NFL is hosting the 2020 draft on the Las Vegas strip. The actual stage will be set up on top of the fountains at the Bellagio. As each player is selected, they will travel via boat to the stage to meet with Roger Goodell and various guests.
All the glitz and glam aside, Oakland’s offense is set up in a great position. Renfrow and running back Josh Jacobs proved to be two invaluable selections in the 2019 draft for the development of the Raiders offense last season. Waller also contributed a breakout season earning his first 1,000-yard season, after not breaking 100 yards before, in his career, his 40.05 OSM season grade gives him an elite season and ranks as the sixth-best TE according to PFN.
The Raiders have two first-round picks in the 2020 draft, selecting 12th and 19th overall, Las Vegas needs some help on defense. However, with a deep QB class, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Raiders take a chance on a QB prospect with the idea of him taking over for Carr in the near future. Whatever the case, the Raiders offense is in an excellent position to make some noise during the 2020 season.