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How Julian Edelman Helped Hunter Renfrow

By Dave Holcomb
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Renfrow could go as high as the third round in the 2019 draft and should receive his shot to make an impact as an NFL rookie.

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman winning the Super Bowl LIII MVP award has brought out the most extreme hot takes from both Patriots lovers and haters. Some have gone as far as to claim Edelman will one day make the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

That’s a debate for after he retires, but Edelman in the national spotlight is the best of news for one NFL draftee -- Clemson wideout Hunter Renfrow.

Often compared to Edelman in size, background and style of play, Renfrow stands at only 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds. As Pete Thamel noted in his Renfrow draft preview at the end of January, he looks more like a cross country runner than a football player.

Yet, Renfrow could go as high as the third round in the 2019 draft and should receive his shot to make an impact as an NFL rookie.

At his size, NFL teams aren’t going to select Renfrow to line up outside. Walter Football projects him to run a 4.54 40-yard dash, which isn’t bad, but it’s also not elite speed.

Renfrow, though, comes out of college as one of the most experienced and “polished” slot wide receivers in the draft. He’s not fast, but he’s quick -- like Edelman.

“He reminds me of (Julian) Edelman,” Boston College coach Steve Addazio told Yahoo Sports.
“He’s tough, has great change-of direction and elite hands.”

From Walter Football:

“Renfrow totaled 47 catches for 534 yards and a touchdown in 2018. At the Senior Bowl, Renfrow showed that he can be a contributing slot receiver in the NFL and is very polished. Renfrow has enough quickness to be competitive and has excellent hands with polished route-running.”

He comes from the same school that produced DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Williams and Sammy Watkins, but Renfrow was the one who stuck around at Clemson for five years and played more games than any other wide receiver in school history. Part of that was due to the fact he isn’t as talented as those other wideouts and couldn’t leave school for millions of dollars.

But the end result is Renfrow will be the most experienced receiver in the 2019 draft. He spent five years competing on a championship level with the Tigers, playing in the most important games and earning the reputation as a big-game player. He arguably caught the most important pass in Clemson history -- the game-winning touchdown of the 2017 National Championship Game.

That pass came from Deshaun Watson, but Renfrow hauled in passes and excelled with all kinds of different styled quarterbacks behind center. Whether it was the dynamic Watson, the run-oriented Kelly Bryant or the pro-styled Trevor Lawrence, Renfrow was a favorite target.

The Draft Network called his hands his best asset, but that’s probably after the effort and energy he brings to the field everyday. Those two traits, combined with his quickness, make him a very viable option for the slot in the NFL.

Again, I don’t want to oversell his skillset because Renfrow isn’t going to scare any defensive back. He’s not going to be a game changer that other teams will have to develop a plan to stop every week.

Walter Football ranks him the 15th-best wide receiver available in the 2019 NFL draft and project him to be selected between the third and fifth rounds. The Draft Network simply called him a Day Three selection (a 4th-7th round pick).

But Edelman just proved slot wide receivers can make a difference and win Super Bowls. While Renfrow needs to put a lot of work in to become the next Edelman, there’s no telling what the Patriots wideout’s Super Bowl MVP could do to Renfrow’s draft stock.