When the Raiders open minicamp Tuesday, they’ll get their first real look at a revamped corps of wide receivers.
Former Steeler Antonio Brown and ex-Charger Tyrell Williams already are penciled in as starters, but the rest of the group is a question mark. There’s plenty of talent with former Cardinal JJ Nelson, Ryan Grant, formerly of Washington/Indianapolis, young holdovers Keon Hatcher and Marcell Ateman, and Hunter Renfrow, a fifth-round pick out of Clemson.
How Renfrow performs – and where he lines up – will be an interesting story line this week and into training camp.
Though he mostly played as a slot receiver in college, the 5-foot-10, 184-pounder is expected to be used all over the field. At Clemson he had 60- and 49-catch seasons his final two years. He was known for his quickness, instincts, good hands and ability to make big catches in big moments.
Renfrow also believes he makes a lot of plays with his brain.
"I’m not the biggest guy out there," he told Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "I’m not the fastest, but I feel like I can out-think people at times. I think that’s such a big part fo the game that people don’t realize. You have to be able to play, definitely, but you have to be able to out-think people, out-work people. A guy who knows what he’s going to do before he does it is a lot more dangerous than a guy out there big and fast but has no clue what’s going on."
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden saw what Renfrow did as a slot receiver at Clemson, but wants him to learn routes from the other two positions as well.
"He’s going to have to move to the right, to the left, inside, outside, go in motion – do it all," said Gruden. "And that’s something we are going to have to find out as we move on."
If Renfrow can show the Raiders at minicamp this week and into training camp and exhibition games that he can get open – and catch the ball – the team will have a nice complement to Brown and Williams. At Clemson Renfrow’s forte was holding on to passes if he got his hands on them.
According to the analytic website Pro Football Focus, Renfrow in 2018 had the lowest drop rate of any wide receiver in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Renfrow dropped just 2 percent of catchable throws in 2018.