Sean Renfree Scouting Report: NFL Outlook for Duke QB
Seventh Round: 249th Pick
Mike Mayock said, "he might surprise us all." That is a big-name endorsement for Sean Renfree, whose fans include Mayock and Matt Waldman.
There are clearly some out there who believe Renfree could be a late-round steal. Is he a potential diamond in the rough, or just another late-round quarterback with a few fans?
Renfree is clearly a smart, prepared quarterback. He goes through his progressions quickly and won't stop until he finds an open receiver. The Duke product throws with great anticipation and timing. He can sense when a throwing lane will open up instead of waiting to see it.
Renfree's touch is excellent. He can drop the ball into a basket with pinpoint placement. He knows exactly where to put the ball and is often successful in his execution. When under pressure, Renfree rarely panics, instead keeping his eyes downfield, searching for a receiver.
Renfree lacks even average arm strength. He struggles to drive the ball downfield and often fails to fit the ball into tight gaps. Renfree's weight transfer is off, and he doesn't really transition his energy from his back foot to the front. His accuracy isn't great either, and often misses high on easy passes. Renfree forces too many passes, resulting in turnovers. At times, he can be too oblivious to pressure, which can cause sacks and turnovers.
At 6'3", 220 pounds, Renfree has decent but not great size. He's a solid enough athlete, capable of running for some first downs and picking up a few yards with his feet. His arm strength is a weakness, though. Renfree's physical tools certainly aren't anything special, and they are actually one of his bigger flaws.
Renfree was a three-year starter at Duke, and he graduated in 2011 before starting to work on his master's degree. Duke coach David Cutcliffe said that Renfree had the work ethic of a Peyton Manning. Renfree has never been in trouble off the field and appears to be dedicated to football.
Duke ran a pro-style offense with Renfree at quarterback. He frequently worked under center, forcing him to work through a variety of dropbacks. Renfree went through progressions while rarely taking off and running. Duke simply did not have plays designed for Renfree to run.
Renfree's lack of arm strength severely limits his play. He is unable to drive the ball downfield, often limiting him to loft passes or short dumpoffs. Unless a receiver is truly wide open, Renfree will sometimes have to pass on an opportunity to make a play because his arm isn't strong enough along the sidelines.
Renfree displays great touch on a number of passes. He can drop the ball in with perfectly precise placement, making some extremely difficult throws. Sometimes, Renfree will simply awe with his incredible ball placement on throws to all levels of the field.
There are also times, though, when Renfree will come up short. He often throws the ball too high, regardless of how quick and easy a pass is. He will sometimes miss side-to-side too, but altitude is a major issue for Renfree.
Renfree's footwork is concerning. He doesn't transfer his weight from his back foot to his front foot, which limits his velocity. He will also throw off his back foot far too often, which also limits velocity. Renfree will often lift up his back foot as he makes a throw. This could affect his accuracy.
Renfree's actual throwing mechanics aren't nearly as bad, though. He has a quick, compact release and a reasonably high release point. Renfree's release point will change at times, though, and this could lead to his inconsistent ball placement.
Renfree is rarely rattled by pressure. He is excellent at taking a small sidestep to avoid pass-rushers while still keeping his eyes downfield. Renfree rarely looks to run, instead preferring to stay in the pocket and search for an open receiver.
When under pressure, Renfree might step up or otherwise maneuver to avoid being hit. However, he almost never panics and is rarely negatively impacted by the rush. He is adept at staying calm and throwing as if all is normal.
Renfree's mobility isn't exactly a strength, but it isn't a weakness either. The Duke product is more than capable of leaving the pocket to gain space or pick up a few yards if he needs to. However, Renfree's best bet to gain yards is by staying in the pocket and passing, which he generally does. But if things do break down, Renfree is far from useless.
Attacking the Defense
Renfree isn't afraid to throw vertically. He will throw fly patterns down the sideline and across the middle of the field. Renfree doesn't necessarily trust his arm, though. He doesn't throw in to many tight gaps across the middle of the field, and he rarely even tries to drive the ball downfield. Renfree makes many short passes from the shotgun and utilizes a variety of touch throws.
Scheme Versatility/Future Role
Renfree's best scheme fit is in a quick, timing-based passing attack that doesn't require a downfield passer. Think west coast offense. Renfree's physical ability may limit him to being a backup unless revamped footwork can improve his arm strength. In the right offense, though, Renfree's skill set could help him be a viable backup option.
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