Green Bay Packers: Hunter Renfrow film study

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images /

The Green Bay Packers have a lot of outside receiver talent, but they have a gap in the slot that someone like Hunter Renfrow out of Clemson could fill.

The Green Bay Packers drafted three wide receivers last year, and they have two free agents at the position this offseason. While their three young guys could take another step this year, none of them are particularly adept out of the slot. They don’t need to invest a premium draft pick to solve that issue, as they can grab Clemson wide receiver Hunter Renfrow on the third day of the draft to take care of it.

Renfrow played four years in college, and he was a two-time national champion with the Tigers. The best part about Renfrow is his consistency at catching anything thrown in his direction. Similar to Davante Adams now, he catches nearly everything that hits his hands. Against Alabama in the 2016-17 national title game, he lit them up with 10 catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns.

He isn’t an elite athletic or big-play guy, but the team doesn’t need that with guys like Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown already on the team. Players like Renfrow are the key to extending possessions and quarterbacks careers. Tom Brady and Julian Edelman have dominated the AFC for the last decade without Edelman ever putting up elite receiver numbers. Renfrow can be the same type of player for Aaron Rodgers.

Does this play require crazy athleticism or go for a massive gain? No, but it starts out the drive with a solid nine-yard gain on first down. Outside of Adams, who do the Packers currently have that you can trust to do this on a consistent basis? Nobody. Renfrow made simple drive starting plays like this for four years in college, and the quick slant is something that has always been a major feature of the Packers offense that he can revive.

Renfrow isn’t known for his athleticism and ability to separate, but he gets a good amount of separation on this play with the field awareness to get his feet down in bounds. Quarterbacks need a player they can go to on any play to get a completion for a first down. Rodgers has that guy in Adams, but he needs another target that he can go to when Adams is covered. Renfrow can be that guy for him.

The Packers ran a number of wide receiver screens every game, and their receivers have been great after the catch for a number of years. Renfrow does both of those things here. He is patient while his blockers get set up, and he cuts to daylight when he sees it. He’s not the biggest guy on the field, and that works in his favor with the ability to slip between bodies that are close together in the congested middle of the field.

(Qualifier on this play: He dropped the ball, but the play was perfect otherwise.) Have we noticed a theme with Renfrow yet? He does his work close to the line of scrimmage, and he’s an extremely intelligent player. He knows exactly where he needs to get on this play, and he does just that. He gets to his spot fast, and he’s ready for the ball while his quarterback DeShaun Watson is already winding up to let the ball go. First downs extend drives, and Renfrow earns a ton of them.

Is Renfrow only 5’10” and 180 pounds soaking wet? Yes, but he doesn’t care at all when it comes to blocking for the guy next to him. He goes right after the defensive back to give the wideout the ability to get moving, and the team gets a first down out of it. It’s a little more difficult for receivers Renfrow’s size to block at the NFL level, but effort plays like this can make all the difference at the end of the game.

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Renfrow doesn’t have elite speed or athleticism to separate from coverage, but he has the intelligence to make up for it. His football IQ is great, and he catches everything thrown in his direction. With six picks on the third day of the draft, Green Bay could easily target a guy like Renfrow to fill the Cobb role in the slot.