NAME: Hunter Renfrow
POSITION: Wide Receiver
CLASS: RS Senior
JERSEY: No. 13
RECRUITMENT RATING: N/A
WT: 185 lbs
Separation Quickness – Not overly explosive, but shows good fundamentals to press the space of defenders and burst away from coverage. Sells vertically before breaking routes off underneath, but there are limits to how much opponents respect his speed, especially in the slot. Can manipulate the blind spots of defensive backs when they do open up, creating separation while working them out of position.
Ball Skills – The man catches absolutely everything. I’ve never seen him drop a ball during his time at Clemson. If it hits him in the hands, he almost always hangs onto it. Maybe the best low-ball receiver in college football, constantly digging out low throws with his hands underneath, even with a defender closing over top of him. Concentration and ability to adjust last second to balls outside his frame is uncanny. Has made a ton of amazing, highlight-reel grabs at full extension, often work back the opposite direction his body is moving to snag balls behind him. Only negatives are that there are obvious limitations to his catch radius and target area given his size.
Speed/Burst – Obviously not a burner, but I bet he runs in the high 4.5s or low 4.6s. Varies stride length to lull defenders to sleep, than shows adequate burst to slip by them. Winning vertically will never be his trump card in the NFL and Clemson rarely asked that of him, but when they did he typically found a way to finish. Most would view this area as a severe negative for Renfrow, but I think the tape reveals he has enough traits and technique to at least be average in this area.
Route-Running – Lack of really explosive traits out of his breaks hurts with his route-to-route success rate, as does his sometimes limited route tree at Clemson. Has run a ton of bubbles and hitches in 2018, where his route tree was more expansive in the past. Has seen his role and pattern variety decrease due to the elite level talent around him at the position. Still, has tons of experience, recognizes coverages well and is terrific at finding space in zone to sit in.
Contested Catch – Seldom asked to win in contested catch situations, and very few of his traits suggest he would be good at it. His hands and body control are outstanding, but his limited radius, strength physicality and vertical usage don’t project smoothly to pro success. On underneath stuff, does do an excellent job of finishing despite contact over his back.
YAC – Vision and awareness with the ball in his hands is outstanding. Consistently aware of oncoming defenders from all angles, slippery enough to make them miss and always working toward space. Rarely runs himself into trouble. Athletic traits in space are just average, but has natural instincts with the ball in his hands to make the most of them. Not a home run or big play threat after the catch, but very aware of the sticks. Won’t break many tackles and isn’t particularly physical through contact.
Releases – Working from the slot heavily, hasn’t seen a ton of press coverage in recent years. Early in his career there were a few games where he had to handle contact at the line of scrimmage, and his footwork typically kept him clean. Well-executed stretch release with little wasted movement. Uses his hands well, but there will be some matchups that maul him if he plays outside. He’s a slot only in the NFL, so he won’t see as much press or as big a corner most of the time.
Blocking – Gives everything he has as a blocker, but the impact is minimal. Bigger, more aggressive defensive backs can run through his frame and re-route ball carriers. He’s technical and doesn’t back down from contact, but this are could be a concern in his projection to the NFL. Because he will start as a depth receiver, things like tackling and blocking for special teams are going to matter for whoever earns that final roster spot. Senior Bowl or Shrine Game will be big for Renfrow to prove his mettle in those areas.
Competitive Toughness – Mentally his toughness will never be in question. Walked on to Wide Receiver U, earned a scholarship and has kept far more naturally talented players off the field for years due to his well-rounded skill set and hard work. Has been at his best in the biggest games. Physically, not imposing or particularly physical or edgy, but doesn’t shy away from those aspects of the game either.
Athleticism/Size – Short, slight and lacks ideal muscular build for the position. Doubtful he can add much to his frame at this point. Athletically average and will need to prove he can hang with the other draftable prospects at his position during the Combine. I think he’ll perform fine there.
BEST TRAIT – Hands
WORST TRAIT – Contested Catch
RED FLAGS – None
Few players in Clemson history are as loved or as impactful in big moments than Hunter Renfrow, who has generated an undying collegiate reputation as a clutch player. His hands are pure glue, capable of catching every type of pass put anywhere around his somewhat limited catch radius. On the other hand, the weaknesses are clear; Renfrow is short, slight of frame, not overly athletic and could struggle to survive the physicality of the NFL.
On day three of the draft however, I want a guy on my team who can catch everything, has unbelievable body control, is shockingly slippery after the catch and thinks the game at a high level. Renfrow won’t be for more vertical-based offenses, but in the right system, he can be a difference-making contributor in the short-intermediate areas of the field.
Separation Quickness – Above average short-area quickness, but elite route breaks. Vertical cuts are efficient, but horizontal breaks are his best. Dominant footwork after stemming his way onto the toes of the defensive back. Snaps his route off on on curls, comebacks or hitches and forces defensive backs into sluggish transitions.
Ball Skills – Outstanding ball skills. Consistently extends at the last moment and catches everything. Easy adjustments no matter how quickly the ball is on him after his route break. Will extend to any ball placement and pick up balls off the turf with ease. Minimal drops, near-perfect catch rate. So reliable and fixes poor accuracy in the short to intermediate portions of the field. Contested catch points generally don’t bother him as long as he has the length to get his hands on the ball.
Speed/Burst – Lacks the long speed to separate vertically in most cases. Struggles to take the top off the defense and was inconsistent winning downfield. Adept speed, but will never be considered a burner. Better in short areas than his long speed.
Route-Running – Does an excellent job changing the pace of his releases and route stems to consistently break away from the defensive backs’ kitchen. Better routes in the short and intermediate portions of the field, despite his adeptness on vertical cuts. Nearly all of his work has come from the slot, and he’s run a ton of bubbles as a result. Will likely never be asked to play on the outside at the next level. Dominates zone coverage, able to find open windows while slipping by defenders. Projects as a dominant receiver on option routes in the NFL.
Contested Catch – While his concentration and hands are excellent in these situations, there are limitations due to his lack of length and slightly built frame. When put in contested spots, varying success on getting his hands on the ball. Plucks the ball out of the air when he can position his frame in front of the defensive back. The catch point can get played a bit too often due to his lack of length.
YAC – For a player that has caught so many passes, he doesn’t transition into a ball carrier as quickly as you’d expect. Takes a moment to process the defense developing around him, and can occasionally take big hits as a result. As a runner, solid lateral agility that allows him to avoid initial defenders. While his field vision is awesome, his ability in space is far from elite as his isn’t the most elusive runner. Rarely breaks tackles as his slight frame limits his strength.
Releases –Consistently working from the slot, he hasn’t been asked to release against press coverage often. In the Boston College game, they tested him at the line of scrimmage a few times and sent a player to re-route him on slot blitzes. Did a nice job avoiding contact with lateral footwork, but doesn’t posses the most violent of hip shifts. Uses his hands well to keep his frame clean, though the proper technique in his hand usage could use some refinement.
Blocking – Realistically, Renfrow struggles in this regard. His effort his high, but his technique isn’t pretty and he lacks the traits to be effective as a blocker. Too often overpowered by defensive backs, and doesn’t keep a proper base or climb into defenders with strength. When he does close down the space, he fails to get his hands inside and drive. A “one punch” style of blocker that is almost never effective. Needs improvement in this area despite some good effort.
Competitive Toughness – His resolve has been seen on a consistent basis throughout his career. From being a former walk on to playing in over 50 collegiate games, including catching the game winning touchdown pass in the national championship. Will never be over-powering on the field, but will never question his mindset either.
Athleticism/Size – Smaller build, and likely won’t test as a plus-athlete. Luckily for Renfrow, his game is more predicated on technique and reliability. While his ceiling will be limited due to his lack of size and athleticism, his projection becomes easy because of how non-reliant he is on his combination of size and speed.
BEST TRAIT – Hands
WORST TRAIT – Stalk blocking
RED FLAGS – None
Projection to the next levels feels easy, as he will become a reliable slot receiver at the next level. Won’t ever become a dynamic athlete, but is more than passable and is a technical wizard. His label of “Mr. Reliable” is spot on, as he won’t drop passes in the NFL. Will be a consistent third down chain-mover.
While some franchises prefer to take lesser players with athletic upside in the later portions of the draft, others take players with high-floors. Renfrow qualifies as the latter, as an NFL team will know what they’re getting on Day 3 of the NFL Draft. Add Renfrow to your wide receiver room, and you have a consistent performer on the WR3/WR4 spectrum.
Route Running –Quick, shifty and polished. Love his whip route to sucker defenders inside before pivoting for width and pushing to the outside. Really active with his head and shoulders to sell false breaks. Accelerates quickly out of his breaks, knows how to adjust speed to uncover.
Hands –Tremendous. Plucks the ball out of the air and shows excellent concentration to see the football in while on the move. Hand strength is present to squeeze the ball even when he’s being contacted or as he’s falling to the ground with the ball away from his frame.
Contested Catch Ability –Lack of size and frame are big roadblocks to being a reliable target in tight windows. His hand strength does do him some favors to fight for balls he shouldn’t be expected to catch, however. Catch radius is limited in size and won’t bail out his passer.
Run After Catch Ability –Good open field vision. Has enough wiggle to make the first arriving tackler miss, but unless he’s picked up by a convoy of blockers he’s only going to get minimal added yardage that he creates on his own. Chain mover, not explosive play maker.
Football IQ –Highly experienced and has made his hay with three different quarterbacks during his time in school. Earned the trust of each of them with crafty routes and effective breaks to create obvious separation for easy targets.
Vertical Receiving –Isn’t going to have a lot of success stacking vertically against press coverage. Doesn’t have the long speed or the play strength to work through press. Lack of length and leaping ability is problematic at the catch point to extend catch radius vertically.
Change of Direction Skills –Jittery steps, takes advantage of short stride length to pick himself through traffic and break quickly off of his momentum. Doesn’t have any notably explosion in his lateral cuts but the step frequency is enough to snap quickly into space off his stems.
Speed –Isn’t going to win many pure footraces, but is quite crafty with his tempered releases to create separation for himself….isn’t about how fast he can run but rather how he sets up his burst of speed that allows him to win in short spaces.
Competitive Toughness –Fearless, particularly for his size. Have to admire the hits he bounces back up from without hesitation. Functional play strength is poor, however. He’ll get rag-dolled on big hits and isn’t going to offer much of anything as a blocker in the slot.
Blocking Ability –Minimal value here. Lacking in body power, length, strength through the hands. Will be able to offer just enough to get in the way on quick hitting plays but by and large needs to be schemed away from blocking as a point man.
BEST TRAIT – Route Running
WORST TRAIT – Vertical Receiving
BEST FILM – Alabama (2018)
WORST FILM – Pittsburgh (2018)
RED FLAGS – None
Hunter Renfrow will undoubtedly find a role as a depth receiver in the NFL. With soft hands and reliable route running ability, Renfrow will make a living for himself working out of the slot. His modest physical traits will prevent him from being a commodity, but Renfrow should be considered a viable slot target. Teams that wish to take Renfrow away will be able to do so with athletic nickel defenders, so consider his ceiling only as high as the demand of covering additional receivers.
Routes – Runs short and intermediate routes with precision but also knows how to sell routes vertically to keep the coverage honest. Does well to sink his hips and snap his head around to find the football out of breaks. Uncovers quickly and is a true route salesman. Works to his spots with proper timing and knows how to attack leverage and separate.
Hands – Literally catches everything. Can extend his arms and pluck the football in any direction. Tightly squeezes the football away from his frame. Natural hands catcher the secures the football cleanly. Has the grip strength needed to hang on through contact. Looked confident fielding punts at the Senior Bowl.
Ball Skills – Makes good adjustments to off-target throws. Can scoop out the low throw while also extending in any direction. Tracks the football cleanly and adjusts. Lacks the physical traits to be a consistent winner in contested situations but he competes.
YAC Ability – Has only modest acceleration after the catch but is decisive to work up the field after securing the reception. Illustrates good spatial awareness and knows where the sticks are. Sees the field cleanly and has enough wiggle to create for himself. Not a candidate to break tackles or win post-contact.
Release – Showcases a variety of footwork, hand technique and body fakes to shake defenders in the contact window and get into his route stem. Modest acceleration that isn’t going to truly stress the corner’s feet and fluidity but knows how to manipulate coverage and find space.
Play Speed – Is a smooth and twitchy mover but won’t be confused as explosive. Has upside vertically on account of his ball tracking and route running skills but NFL corners won’t have a difficult timing keeping pace. Is reliant on quickness and technique to get open.
Blocking – While his physical traits don’t project him to be an impact blocker in the NFL, you can’t deny his effort. Plays every snap the same and he competes hard. Does well to act like he running a route to create advantageous opportunities to hit blocks. He ultimately lacks the physical upside to be overly reliable against NFL defenders.
Play Strength – Winning with strength and physicality just isn’t his brand. Is a finesse guy that wins with quickness and nuance. Will be required to work exclusively from the slot to avoid press coverage and get clean releases.
Versatility – Projects as an exclusive worker from the slot with playmaking upside to the short and intermediate areas of the field. Was not tasked with punt return duties in college but looked confident and natural fielding punts at the Senior Bowl. Limited vertical receiving skill set.
BEST TRAIT – Hands
WORST TRAIT – Size
RED FLAGS – None
While there are plenty of concerns regarding his physical upside, nobody questions that Renfrow can uncover as a short to intermediate route runner and his hands are superb. Renfrow wins with nuanced routes, great timing and suction cups for hands. The challenge ahead for Renfrow is overcoming a lack of play strength, poor size and minimal length that do limit his playmaking upside. Renfrow can make a living from the slot, keeping the chains moving and being a reliable target that knows how to find space.