Many expect the New Orleans Saints to draft a wide receiver with one of their selections in the NFL draft later this week. The team does already has Michael Thomas, who led the NFL with a franchise record 125 receptions in 2018, and is one of the best receivers in the league. Some were disappointed in the production from the rest of the wide receiver position though. The Saints do have promising second year receivers Tre'Quan Smith, a 3rd round pick last year, along with Keith Kirkwood. Coaches expect big improvements in both consistency and production from both players in 2019. They also welcome back veterans Ted Ginn Jr. and Cameron Meredith, who were each limited by injuries last season. New Orleans could chose to address more pressing needs with some of their early round selections, and instead grab a wideout in the later rounds. The franchise has had some success in finding late round talent at this position historically, or even as an undrafted free agent. One such project could be hiding in plain sight, an important part of two national championship teams and the subject of today's draft profile.
Hunter Renfrow, WR (Clemson)
Renfrow had numerous scholarship offers in both football and baseball when coming out of Socastee High School in South Carolina, but chose to go to Clemson as a walk-on football player. After redshirting the 2014 season, he received a football scholarship in 2015, and responded by catching 33 passes for 492 yards and 5 touchdowns, including 2 scores in the Tigers narrow National Championship game loss to Alabama. He struggled with injuries a bit during Clemson's national championship season of 2016, but still caught 44 balls for 495 yards and six scores. Renfrow rebounded to be the team's top receiver in 2017, with 60 receptions for 602 yards and 3 touchdowns, earning 3rd team All-ACC honors. He wasn't as big a focal point of the offense last year, but still finished with 49 receptions for 544 yards and a touchdown, as his Tigers again rolled to a National Championship.
He participated in every drill at the NFL Scouting Combine, showcasing better than average speed and elite quickness.
40-yd. dash = 4.59
Vertical jump = 35 inches
Broad jump = 116 inches
3-cone drill = 6.8
(3rd among wideouts)
20-yd. shuttle = 4.19
(8th among wideouts)
60-yd. shuttle = 11.39
(3rd among all participants)
Jeremy Kerley (free agent)
Hunter Renfrow may lack the ideal measurables of a prototype NFL wideout, but made a career out of getting open against the highest level of collegiate competition. He is a crisp route runner who gains separation with sharp breaks and quick feet. He has great recognition of opposing coverages, sets up defenders with effective fakes regularly, and works well with his quarterback to get open on broken plays. Renfrow has great hands; snatching the ball out of the air and securing it quickly. He has incredible reflexes and body control while he works the middle of the field and the sideline. He's an elusive runner after the catch, but is able to withstand punishment from larger defenders.
Renfrow does have short arms and a limited catch radius. He is not a legitimate deep threat, and lacks gamebreaking speed, which gives opposing defensive backs confidence to crowd him at the line and apply physical press coverage.
Hunter Renfrow is a sure handed slot receiver who will create his opportunities despite limited size and speed. Projected as a day 3 pick because of a lack of ideal measurables, Renfrow seems destined to quickly carve out a role for the team he ends up on. He will primarily be a slot receiver at the pro level, and has the route running ability to work the intermediate parts of the field with precision. He won't be a deep threat, but Renfrow has the hands and work ethic to be a quarterback's go-to target in key situations, along with good enough speed to run past an overconfident defensive back. He saved his best performances for some of the biggest stages while at Clemson, and has the look of a player who might make any NFL team who bypasses him regret that decision for years.