Explosiveness - Stupid sick, man. Has a tremendous blend of lower-body power, snap anticipation, and fleet-footedness. Improved pad level off the snap throughout the course of 2018 helped solve issue of popping upright at the snap, which allowed for more production based off first step quickness. Multiple examples of destroying play concept with initial surge; when lined up over center, attacks with hands early to build successful rushes off of winning early with explosiveness.
Hand Usage - Improved throughout the course of 2018 and illustrates some of his sky-high potential. Flashes an understanding of how to snatch and trap, as well as a forklift and a swipe, that all build off of his initial quickness. Hands are not nearly as active or smart in the running game -- must better learn how to attack leverage points to fight power with power and retain gap integrity.
Power/Leverage - Dude is unbelievable yoked. Has eye-popping plays both of lower-body power to drive against pass sets or anchor against down blocks; equally eye-popping plays of upper body power when working drag hand on rushes or turning bodies to present in a gap in run defense. Better at drawing power from leverage, though will always be a taller player who struggles with popping up pads.
Rush Moves - Work needs to be done here. Understands that his best skill is his bull rush but won't be lined up in the 0-tech nearly as often at the NFL level and must develop a further pass-rush plan from a gap if he's to stick as a 3-technique. Flashes of bull rush counters (push-pull, arm-over, forklift) all get me excited, but they're regularly late in the rep and often when he's already been stonewalled. Adding pitches to his arsenal is a must.
Flexibility - For a dude of his height and thickness to make some of the angles he does is really fun. Has great movement in the ankles and knees to fight pressure with pressure when working a half-man relationship. Mixed bag at turning his rushes into pressure because he gets lazy/wide with his footwork and takes too big of loops to the set point. Hip drop isn't great and accordingly struggles to tighten angles. Hand usage to soften angles will help here.
Lateral Influence - Quickness, stride length, and tackle radius make him a tough handle on reach blocks and down blocks alike. Willing to get on his horse as a pursuit player and has good closing burst for an interior player. Has some backfield vision issues and needs to better learn how to read pressure keys and fit against backside blocks -- can be suckered downfield into the backfield too easily. Better block recognition will help him get more involved fighting across the line of scrimmage.
Block Recognition/Deconstruction - Needs to better learn how to read pressure keys and fit against backside blocks -- can be suckered downfield into the backfield too easily. Too oriented on his visual keys and plays the man his hands are on, which prevents him from reading running back motion and getting involved on the backside of plays. Experience should help here.
Tackling - Nothing to complain about here. Good radius, great power, and a willingness to get involved on gang tackles is a nice touch on top. Not a stat-sheet stuffer because of aggressive, downhill play.
Versatility - Has the size and background to play anywhere between the tackles, and with his length and explosiveness, wouldn't be surprised to see 3-4 teams rush him from the 5-technique as well. Truly exciting as a potential "demand double team" player that will elevate an entire pass rush.
BEST TRAIT - Explosiveness
WORST TRAIT - Block Recognition/Deconstruction
RED FLAGS - None
PLAYER COMPARISON - Akiem Hicks
Renell Wren has a wicked first step and a lot of pop in his hands, and that alone made him a terror to deal with from the 0-technique position this year. At the NFL level, we should expect Wren to quickly slide into a 3-technique role. He'lL have to learn how to activate his hands to win half-man relationships and improve his cornering ability, but in Year 1, you can expect him to regularly compromise the depth of the pocket and force the quarterback off his spot.
There are concerns with Wren's run defense at this juncture, but the growth he showed in his hand usage and leverage across the season encourages me. If Wren can continue to keep his pads low and continue to develop active feet, he has Pro Bowl potential by Year 3 of his young career.
ROUND GRADE: Late 2nd