Hunter Renfrow is Hands Down the Raiders Best Slot Receiver

The Raiders selected former Tigers wide receiver Hunter Renfrow in the fifth round. At Clemson, Renfrow primarily played slot receiver and statistically, he is already Oakland’s best option in the slot.

Last season, the Raiders lacked a legitimate weapon at slot receiver. Seth Roberts was the team’s best option and only managed 346 yards and 1.22 yards per route run from the slot, which ranked 38th and 57th respectively (minimum 98 snaps from the slot). Unsurprisingly, Oakland has moved on from Roberts and while that decision is certainly justified, it intensifies the team’s need for the position.

It’s not often that a team drafts a player in the fifth round and that player walks in as the team’s best option at his position. However, with Renfrow and Oakland, statistically that is the case. Last season, Renfrow had 545 yards and 1.88 yards per route run from the slot and those numbers ranked seventh and 12th in the ACC (minimum 77 snaps). Antonio Brown is the only other wide receiver on the Raiders roster whose numbers from last season are even comparable to Renfrow’s. Brown had 315 yards and 2.27 yards per route run from the slot, but only 21 percent of his snaps were from the slot. For comparison, about 91 percent of Renfrow’s snaps came from the slot so they likely won’t be competing with each other. The chart below provides statistics for Oakland’s other options at slot receiver.

Name Percentage of Snaps Yards Yards/Route
Tyrell Williams 40.7% 188 1.00
Ryan Grant 11.9% 29 0.62
J.J. Nelson* 16.2% 96 1.00
Keelan Doss 47.4% 780 3.12

*J.J. Nelson’s stats are from 2017; he did not record stats from the slot in 2018. Every other player’s statistics are from 2018. All statistics are from Pro Football Focus and can be seen here and here.

Free agent acquisition Tyrell Williams and undrafted rookie Keelan Doss look to be Renfrow’s stiffest competition. Williams’ versatility makes it hard to predict how head coach Jon Gruden plans to use him. However, last season’s data suggests that the Raiders most productive lineup will be with Brown and Williams on the outside, and Renfrow in the slot. That leaves Doss as Renfrow’s biggest threat for playing time. While the former had better numbers a season ago, it’s important to remember that at UC Davis, the competition he faced wasn’t nearly the same as Renfrow’s. Plus, with Renfrow being a fifth round pick and Doss being an undrafted free agent, Oakland has more invested in Renfrow and will likely give him more opportunities than Doss. Often with day three draft picks, the question is if the players will make the team, not how much of an impact he’s going to have.

However, with Renfrow the question is whether will he be the starter week one or not. If I have to make my prediction right now, I won’t even hesitate to say yes.

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