Dominating wide receiver he is not. Perhaps, he will never be. But rookie Hunter Renfrow is an immensely valuable asset to the Oakland Raiders as chainmover.
Renfrow’s statistics won’t leap at you: 28 grabs for 299 yards and 2 touchdowns. Those aren’t awful considering he was a fifth-round selection, no?
“The two things I’ve always judged myself by have nothing to do with catches or stats,” Renfrow said. “Am I being a great teammate, and does it matter than I’m on the team? Am I making an impact and am I helping us win games? If I can say yes to those things, then I can live with the results.”
But here’s a stat that will grasp you by the shirt collar: 18 of his 28 catches are for first downs.
“He’s starting to look for No. 13 when the game is on the line,” Joe Buck said of Derek Carr firing to Renfrow during the Raiders game-winning drive against the Chargers last Thursday.
“Yeah, I would too,” chimed in broadcast partner Troy Aikman, “we saw in the earlier catch that he had just set it down in the zone when was on a crossing route. At that time, he runs the proper distance and then just hooks it up and stays put. He’s very disciplined for such a young player.”
Through the first seven games of his inaugural year as a Raider, Renfrow had a paltry 115 yards and 0 TDs. In the last three contents, the Clemson product has 184 yards and two scores. His ability to weave through traffic, keep his eyes on Carr and stutter step a Lions defender into oblivion and haul in the TD pass two weeks ago proves “dad bod” Renfrow can get it done.
“Contrary to belief, I am slightly athletic,” Renfrow said with a smile. “I’m not a freak. Compared to Tyrell Williams and those guys, maybe I’m not, but the harder I work and the more details I can focus on, the more I can let my ability shine through. For me, it’s trying to run routes and recognize defense better than anybody so I can let the gift God gave me shine through.”
It was Renfrow’s ability to be a zone breaker and find the open spaces for catches with reliable (albeit relatively small) hands that made him a terror during his collegiate days. And he’s beginning to show it at the pro level. That’s great for the Raiders, awful for the opposition.