Hunter Renfrow v.s Ryan Grant v.s J.J Nelson (WR)
The battle at slot receiver looks to be a three-headed race with Hunter Renfrow, Ryan Grant and J.J Nelson all fighting their way to start week 1. All three guys are new to the Raiders, as Renfrow was a fifth-round pick out of the University of Clemson, Grant comes from the Indianapolis Colts, and Nelson comes from the Arizona Cardinals.
Renfrow obviously doesn’t have any experience in the NFL, but he does have a knack for the big moment, as he dominated college football’s biggest stage during his time at Clemson. The former walk-on has extraordinary hands, and exceptional vision to split defenders when battling traffic. He would serve the Raiders as a superior check down option for Derek Carr.
Grant comes into the battle as a suitable slot receiver, however he has lined up on the outside from time-to-time during his five-year career. Grant is slightly larger than Renfrow and Nelson, giving Carr a larger target over the middle, but he doesn’t possess the same quickness in and out of his breaks that Renforw and Nelson do.
Nelson is a burner, who can absolutely fly past defenders. He ran a 4.28 40-yard dash at the combine in 2015, after coming out of the University of Alabama Birmingham. Nelson excels in short-area quickness, where he can utilize his speed to his advantage when working in the slot. He can also return kicks and punts, as he’ll likely be an important figure to Rich Bisaccia’s special teams unit.
In today’s NFL, team’s are predominately going away from two-back sets and going with an additional receiver, such as someone in the slot. All three options of Renfrow, Grant, and Nelson are all quality pass catchers, who provide a different dimension to the offense. Depending on the production in camp and the preseason, that will likely give Gruden his starting guy come week 1.