Looking back, who would have guessed Hunter Renfrow was going to be the Las Vegas Raiders’ most impactful wide receiver acquisition of 2019? If you raised your hand, please put it down, you know you’re lying.
The Raiders wide receiver woes are not new
If you think the Raiders wide receiver corps was subpar in 2019, what do you think about their 2018 counterpart? That year was head coach Jon Gruden’s first on the job and not a good one. The Silver and Black finished the season at 4-12 with more questions than answers. Their offensive line allowed 52 sacks and their defense ranked last in points allowed.
Moreover, the Raiders wide receiver unit was pretty much a non factor. Their leading receiver was tight end Jared Cook with 68 catches for 698 yards and six touchdowns. Jordy Nelson was the team’s most productive wide receiver and ended the year with a pedestrian 63 catches for 739 yards and three touchdowns. Seth Roberts was the second best wideout and caught 45 passes for 494 yards and two touchdowns.
By now, it’s clear why the Raiders traded for All-Pro Antonio Brown and acquired Tyrell Williams, you only have to go back one year before 2019. Furthermore, they drafted Hunter Renfrow and got Zay Jones in the middle of the season via trade. Out of all those players, the Clemson standout is the one that has contributed the most to the Raiders.
Everyone knows the ‘AB’ acquisition turned out to be a dumpster fire while Williams has been battling with injuries. Although Jones is going through the most confident time he has had in the NFL, the jury is still out. The Raiders also signed Keelan Doss as an undrafted free agent. However, the Oakland native didn’t do much last year and has failed to stand out this training camp. On the other hand, Renfrow finished the 2019 strong and should be even better in 20202.
Hunter Renfrow will continue to be a key cog in 2020
The former Tigers receiver started 2019 slow and didn’t see many targets his way. Nevertheless, once he came back from a rib injury he sustained against the Jets in Week 12, the Raiders heavily involved him in the offense. In the last two games of the year, he had 13 receptions for 209 yards and two touchdowns.
A few days ago, a video of Renfrow went viral. It got so much attention, scouts and analyst ended up breaking it down.
Hunter Renfrow is the least athletic looking WR in the NFL, but he’s out there sending veteran CB’s for a hotdog.
— 𝐑𝐲𝐚𝐧 (@Raider_Ryan1) August 24, 2020
Furthermore, Renfrow has improved his core strength via Tashan Reed of The Athletic. Reed adds that even though it’s hard to tell apart, “corners haven’t been able to hold him up at the line of scrimmage or knock him off his route path”.
The Raiders added Henry Ruggs III, Bryan Edwards and Nelson Agholor this offseason, so Renfrow’s production might not spike much. Rather, quarterback Derek Carr will probably spread the ball around. Having said that, Renfrow will still have an important role for the Silver and Black in 2020.
While Ruggs and Edwards work on the outside, Renfrow will operate from the slot and the Raiders won’t likely take him off the field often. Agholor thrived on the slot in his best season as a pro but he won’t take many of Renfrow’s snaps. Instead, the Silver and Black could use him in four wide receiver sets.
The Raiders will try to go to their rookie wide receivers often. That doesn’t mean they will forget about Renfrow. It just means their offense is more complete and has more depth, at least more than they did in 2019 and the year before that.
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