When he steps on the field for summer training camp, Hunter Renfrow will already feel at home. Yet, the Raiders still need to determine what his eventual role will look like during his rookie season. With at least a half-dozen other wideouts, carving out a niche could initially look daunting for Renfrow. Yet, he doesn’t look like he’s ever retreated from competition.
Granted, when the ignorant look at Hunter Renfrow, they will think the Raiders goofed. For the obvious, stereotypical reason, people will judge him. However, his complexion did not earn him a starting spot and two national titles at Clemson. Additionally, despite Renfrow’s high game IQ, he presents the nimbleness and cutting ability of a slot wideout. He routinely beat man coverage and make defenders miss in the open field.
With Brown and Williams commanding outside attention, Renfrow can carve a niche on option routes underneath. While not fancy or flashy, moving the chains would extend drives and give the defense ample rest. More importantly, stringing together less three-and outs would help the psyche of the Raiders offensively.
If Renfrow climbs the depth chart, playing as many snaps as possible during preseason will help him immeasurably. With Antonio Brown sitting out the preseason, Renfrow should move up the depth chart for games. As a result, the Raiders can pencil him in for three of the four games for reps. Playing a half or three quarters will give him the exposure to the speed of the pro game quicker than anything else.
When the Raiders signed Ryan Grant, the presumptive thought was that he’d occupy the slot. Yet, his short-term deal makes him expendable should Renfrow impress. In Grant, the Raiders would employ a bigger receiver with actual NFL experience. However, Renfrow owns better hands and a deceptive catch radius. That is to say, regardless of angle, he will make the play.
Given these points, the Raiders will give Renfrow ample chances to show what he can do in preseason. If you doubt him, chances are that you will join the long line of those naysayers. For all of his alleged shortcomings, Renfrow can make plays for the Raiders. While he may never be a superstar or true lead wideout, throwing the ball his way is a great decision.