NAME: Renell Wren
SCHOOL: Arizona State
CLASS: RS Senior
JERSEY: No. 95
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
WT: 295 lbs
Hand Technique/Length –Has excellent length and flashes of extension skills to stack up blockers. Is too infrequent with his punch/stun and too often finds himself chest to chest with opponents. Will get belly bumped out of his platform and get washed away against double teams.
Competitive Toughness –When in attack mode will devastate the opposing center in one on one situations. Physically dominant thanks to twitch and lower body power. Recovery against technically refined blockers is limited, too often stonewalled if unable to dictate first reps, giving ground looking to scrape.
Two Gap Ability –Offers upside and does show the ability to press, stack and then shed blocks with lateral disengagement as he processes the run. Hand stun needs improvement to increase his consistency but physical skill set is present for an effective role.
Gap Penetration Skills –First step quickness yields disruption on the interior. That said, his push comes from working through undersized bodies as compared to playing effectively between defenders and into gaps. Needs to rip through contact and disengage clean and afford himself better chances to uncover.
Tackling –Massive wingspan and short area mobility will pose challenge for ball carriers if he’s uncovered at the line of scrimmage. Late disengagement skills can improve and yield better results when adjacent gaps are tested in the run game. Powerful, explosive hitting power.
Flexibility –Has admirable cornering ability for such a large presence in the middle. Needs to make concentrated effort to get the hips down and improve pad level on his release, will spring up and provide a large target. Capable of working hips over-top of a reach block to string out and stay leveraged.
Pass Rush Counters –Secondary counters are almost non-existent. Doesn’t show awareness to attack half a man as a rusher and will eliminate his leverage on reps against the pass. Needs to be fully overhauled to develop awareness, counters and improve diagnosis of the protection vs. pass.
First Step Quickness –Terrific release out of his stance. Often the first to move and has put the opposition on their heels quickly with urgent power rushes in the middle. Possesses ideal quick twitch ability and will win various reps based strictly on his quick release off the line.
Feet/Change Of Direction –Pretty light on his feet, has no problem in the phone booth to step laterally and create a window of space for himself, although his other limitations prevent him from finish said reps. Has good burst and spring in space when the QB flushes the pocket and he transitions to pursuit.
Versatility –Might be best served in the B-gap as a two-gap style defender. Role as a true nose tackle doesn’t amplify his best traits and puts him in the path of too many double teams. Burst, length and explosion are attractive qualities but he’s not developed enough to play 3T.
BEST TRAIT – First Step Quickness
WORST TRAIT – Hand Technique
BEST FILM – Michigan State (2018)
WORST FILM – Washington (2018)
RED FLAGS – None
Renell Wren has an explosive first step, one that could make him an attractive player with further polish. Wren’s transition to the pros will be complicated: he has the first step of a pass rush threat but very little to follow with if tasked with playing in a penetration role. On the flip side, Wren’s irregular hand strike and disengagement skills pose challenges to a two gap/nose tackle role as well. Wren is a high ceiling, low floor prospect.
Get-off/Burst – Operates almost exclusively from a 4-point stance as a nose tackle and is rarely asked to just fire gaps, but gets off the ball extremely fast despite not gaining a ton of ground upfield. There is some variance to his first step, but the low points are still good get-offs, and the high points are elite, blow-up-a-play-from-the-snap explosive. Consistently fires out into his opponents and can re-set the line of scrimmage in an instant when his technique and pad level are right.
Leverage – Inconsistent in his pad level. At times fires off the ball low with arms extended to lock out his opponent. Other times will stand up straight off the ball and navigate slowly to a gap rather than firing low and looking to knife through contact. Can get walled off and moved around when he loses leverage despite his unbelievable power.
Hand Usage – Strike placement and timing are all over the place, but he does show the ability to lock out his opponent and bench press blockers off his frame in the run game. Raw power is crazy to watch at times, when pads and hands are right will drive blockers into the backfield and disrupt plays. Has the length and strength to be dominant at the point-of-attack with better attention to detail. As a pass rusher, almost fully in need of development with his hand usage.
Rush Plan/Counters – Almost never has a rush plan or works a move on his opponent. Bull rush defensive tackle who will occasionally flash an arm-over move to clear contact at the last second. Definition of a slow-burn pass rusher who doesn’t think quickly on his feet to work counter moves into his attacks. Absolutely bully as a bull rusher, will bend opponents back but needs to be quicker to take advantage of their struggle with a secondary move. Tools are great, but this is an area of clear weakness.
Mental Processing/Block Recognition – Better in this area than I originally gave him credit for. Especially in games where he gets to play a lot, begins to get a good feel for how opponents are trying to attack him and will counter with good footwork. Has done well to scrape playside against zone concepts. Can get mauled by double teams or down blocks that he doesn’t see coming. Finds the football through contact decently, but could do better at shedding quickly to pursue.
Range – Rumored to run a 4.85 40, and I think a penetrating role may reveal those traits even more. Doesn’t look overly fast on tape, but has shown the ability to run down plays in pursuit. Clearly at least a solid athlete, but playing nose tackle so heavily at Arizona State didn’t open him up to much of a run-and-chase evaluation.
Bend/Flexibility – Probably my biggest question mark with Wren. Wish I saw him work to the edge of his blocker more so I could see his turn to the pocket. I think he might be a little stiff from the flashes I’ve seen, certainly plays as a very linear rusher, but that could also be due to a lack of creativity.
Tackling – Hardly had any tackles in college, until emerging with 43 his senior year. Rotational player so only got a couple tackle opportunities a game, but I did not see any misses in the six games I watched.
Competitive Toughness – Ultra-physical and plays the game with an edge. Motor runs hot, will consistently show good pursuit skills and the desire to chip in on tackles.
Athleticism/Size – Probably one of the best frames of any player in the entire class, at any position. Absolutely stacked with muscle, weight room numbers at Arizona State are insane, puts a lot of time into his frame.
BEST TRAIT – Get-off/Power
WORST TRAIT – Rush Plan/Counters
RED FLAGS – None
Physically, Renell Wren reminds me of Chris Jones with his unbelievable frame and length for the position. He’s a little bit smaller than Jones, but even stylistically the two share some similarities, most notably in their first step and eye-popping raw power. But where Jones was better with his hands and plan of attack as a pass rusher out of college, Wren is still lacking in a lot of ways. Perhaps a move from nose tackle would help the promising defensive tackle, whose landing spot in the NFL might mean everything in determining a potential impact player or a career backup at the next level.
PROS: Powerful athlete who has the profile of a disruptive force. Has excellent strength in his upper body and his hands to shock offensive linemen back; when his hands are over his eyes, can really fold his opponent back. Has excellent explosiveness off the ball to immediately hassle guards and especially centers. Excels when aligned in a gap and slanting into an offensive lineman — has full body power to generate rolling displacement and walks interior linemen back into QB’s lap.
Bend and hip fluidity show up when exchanging power in trenches — can uncoil hips to add juice to power profile. Fluidity also appears when handling double teams, down blocks, or working back into gaps: can take on torsion strength from opponents and explode back across face. So much strength in the hips, glutes, and core. Has some good burst to close on tackles near the line of scrimmage; seems to have a big tackle radius.
CONS: Upright frame pops up at the snap instinctively, which surrenders a big chest plate target to shorter and squattier offensive linemen. Does not yet understand how to draw out/combat hands of opponent — greatest weakness is currently willingness to get locked up and inability to disengage with hand usage. Will play out of control, surrendering back to line of scrimmage when attempting to work laterally. Has only average lateral quickness; foot speed disappoints.
Unwillingness to maximize length, on top of pedestrian hand usage, greatly limits his ability to generate rush angles. Will take on and maintain opponents with bent elbows, thus putting his chest inside of opponent’s cylinder and getting himself into unnecessary tie-ups. Does not have great diagnostic/awareness abilities as it stands — can get reached and down-blocked because he’s late to feel and sense the oncoming block. Thinner, taller frame struggles to take on double teams, though natural lower body strength does save him in some of these situations.