INDIANAPOLIS — As Hunter Renfrow tore up the Alabama defense in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship, the same thought popped into the minds of countless New England Patriots fans:
It’s only a matter of time before this guy winds up in Foxboro, right?
Renfrow, who went from unheralded walk-on to Clemson legend over his five-year collegiate career, looks like an obvious candidate to follow in the long line of productive Patriots slot receivers.
Speaking Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine, Renfrow said he’d love to play in New England and learn from Julian Edelman, whom he considers a “trailblazer” at his position. He met with Patriots representatives at the Senior Bowl in January and could be an option for the team in the middle rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft.
“They win,” Renfrow said with a smile. “I’ll go wherever they pay me to go, but the Patriots would be cool. Playing with a guy like Tom Brady, that would be incredible. (He’s) one of the greatest players ever to play the game. That would be special. … Playing with a guy like Tom Brady and under and beside a guy like Julian Edelman, who can kind of teach you the nuances of the position, I think would be a big advantage for me.”
Renfrow lauded Edelman’s intelligence and route savvy, which the Patriots star used to continuously beat Los Angeles Rams defenders in his Super Bowl MVP performance last month.
“I love what they did in the Super Bowl,” Renfrow said. “They kind of just ran four verticals, and he just found a way to get open. He really didn’t have a route. He just kind of found open space. I love that, and that’s kind of the backyard football mentality that it takes to be successful.”
This ability to create separation, Renfrow said, is vital for a slot receiver. It’s especially important for a player like himself who stands just 5-foot-10, 184 pounds (“I’m, like, zero percentile on everything,” he said of his combine measurements) and lacks top-end speed.
“The greatest threat you have as a receiver is your ability to run by a guy,” said Renfrow, who caught 186 passes for 2,133 yards and 15 touchdowns in his collegiate career. “So if I’m running a route against you, if I can get you to turn your hips and go deep, then I can come back, I can drag by, I can come back to the quarterback. So (it’s all about) that ability to make those cuts. …
“If you can create space, then you can be able to catch the ball in space and be able to go make yards after the catch.”
Renfrow said he’s modeled his game after Tampa Bay Buccaneers slot receiver Adam Humphries, his close friend and former Clemson teammate. Humphries is an impending free agent and has been mentioned as a potential Patriots target.
New England drafted a potential slot receiver of the future last year in Miami’s Braxton Berrios, but he was placed on injured reserve before the season and has yet to make his NFL debut. Wideout is one of the Patriots’ greatest needs this offseason with Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson all set to hit free agency later this month.
Thumbnail photo via Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports Images