Why Hunter Renfrow Will Become an Elite Slot Receiver in 2020

While the Las Vegas Raiders 2020 offensive rookies capture the headlines, Hunter Renfrow is due for a favorable sophomore campaign. Sin City’s inaugural season should feature a high dosage of the former Clemson Tigers wide receiver.

Captain Clutch

In the 2019 NFL draft, the Raiders traded up in the fifth round to acquire one of the most clutch wide receivers in NCAA football history.

Most late-round draft picks are not viewed as focal points of gameplans in their rookie seasons. Like Clemson, the Raiders leaned on Renfrow when times seemed dire last season. His clutch component made a seamless transition to the NFL level, and Las Vegas should be quite pleased with the outcome.

Not only did he come through with crucial late game catches, the South Carolina native was one of the league’s most explosive players on third down as well.

As he enters his second season in Jon Gruden’s offense, signs point toward an big increase of production in 2020.

Related: Raiders Expect 2020 Rookie Class to Contribute Immediately

First Down Slot Machine

Per Pro Football Focus, Renfrow played 71% of his offensive snaps from the slot receiver position in 2019. Of his 206 total snaps from the slot, the second-year player managed to nab 33 catches for 367 yards and three touchdowns. More importantly, he consistently moved the chains on the most vital down in all of football.

As the Raiders have added more playmakers at the outside receiver positions, the former fifth round pick will presumably have more space to maneuver in the middle of the field.

Despite his lack of vertical routes, it is clear that he is a steadfast option on cross, drag, and slant routes from his natural slot position. It is up to Jon head coach Gruden and quarterback Derek Carr to shift opposing defender’s focus to the outside. Otherwise, the team will see defender’s cheating on third down routes like the play below.

Reluctantly, Las Vegas have three receivers that will keep opposing defense’s honest.

D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press

The New Outside Wide Receiver Trio

The Raiders selected Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III with their 12th overall selection in last month’s draft. While pundits may question the pick, Ruggs’ ability as an outside vertical threat proved to be beneficial for his teammates that operated between the hashes.

In the play above above, there are two defenders that have the presence of mind of where Henry is located on the field. The safety has coverage over the top while the cornerback is playing shallow/underneath. This vacates the middle of the field for the tight end to make a clean catch and then make an impressive touchdown run after the catch. Renfrow frequently operates between the hashmarks as seen in the play below.

While Renfrow will benefit from Ruggs’ speed, a physical rookie outside receiver will pose as another threat.

The Silver and Black utilized one of their third round selections on Bryan Edwards. The South Carolina product will likely take the defense’s attention away from Renfrow in the slot as a physically imposing player on the boundaries. Carr’s favor for big bodied wide-outs also bodes well for the career trajectory of the former Gamecocks receiver.

Last but not least, a healthy Tyrell Williams should be a difference maker opposing defensive back’s will account for.

There is a good chance Renfrow becomes one of the NFL’s premier slot receivers in 2020 with proper game planning.

In Review

For a late round draft pick, the Raiders have found incredible value in Hunter Renfrow. His ability to contribute immediately as a rookie is only the beginning of a promising career with the Raiders. For someone of smaller stature, his impact with the team moving forward has potential to be colossal. His football I.Q. and fond connection with Derek Carr should ultimately lead to a substantial jump in production in his sophomore season.

The Silver and Black have a phenomenal talent at the slot receiver position, 2020 is the year to maximize his skillset.

You May Also Like: A Quick Look at the Raiders 2020 UDFA Class and the new schedule

Top Photo: Heidi Fang / The Las Vegas Review-Journal

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Anonymous

but I will say”hold U so!”made my day when I saw they drafted that little guy from Clemson Go RAIDERS!!

OakieRob

My reaction to your reporting runs the gamut. Some insightful, some gratuitous and annoying. Your writer’s are focused on my favorite team (since 1968) so I’m always interested. Information on the new players is especially welcome, but the click-bait claptrap is tedious and tiresome. In what is now Gruden’s third preseason back, he hasn’t been anything but publicly supportive of Derek Carr, nor taken any of the wildly speculative moves to replace him, yet your writers have this incestuous need to spread unfounded rumors of every kind regarding his inevitable demise. Funny how nobody writes about how many times Carr… Read more »

Anonymous

Good stuff, your use of the word “reluctantly” may not be quite right tho