Name: Renell Wren
School: Arizona State
Weight: 295 lbs
2018 stat line: 11 games, 43 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 2 passes defensed
One of the Cowboys needs going into the offseason is their 3-technique defensive tackle. On paper, David Irving is exactly what you want for that position; he has the speed, burst, and ability to wreak havoc in the middle of the line and collapse the pocket. However, he’s got too much off-field baggage, and has likely seen his last days in Dallas. Maliek Collins is solid, but not the most dynamic disrupter in the backfield.
If the Cowboys are looking for a guy who could possibly become the next Irving, they need look no further than Arizona State’s Renell Wren. At 6’4”, Wren has tremendous size and his arm length is specifically an asset that he uses to his advantage when engaging with offensive linemen. Wren weighs 295, which some think makes him undersized, but the tape shows that Wren doesn’t lack any strength because of it.
While at Arizona State, Wren was frequently hailed by his strength coaches as the strongest player on the entire team, and while what really matters is his time at the combine, Wren’s college coaches clocked him running a 4.85 40-yard dash and a 4.44 20-yard shuttle. Both of these speak to Wren’s best attribute, which is his impressive get off.
After some of the top-tier defensive tackles like Alabama’s Quinnen Williams and Houston’s Ed Oliver, it’s entirely realistic to say that Wren is among the most explosive in his position group. When watching him on film - specifically in games against Michigan State and San Diego State - Wren is usually the first one out of his stance and penetrates into the backfield quickly, forcing the ball-carrier to adjust to his presence. Once he’s gotten penetration, Wren uses his great length to excel at arm tackles and pressuring the quarterback.
Just check out a couple of his highlights from the Senior Bowl:
ASU DT Renell Wren vs. NCST OC Garrett Bradbury— Gavino Borquez (@GavinoBorquez) January 23, 2019
Wren’s sheer force from his bull rush is too much for Bradbury to get inside hand placement. pic.twitter.com/ZRrkWcN9vx
Some will look at Wren’s unimpressive stat line from 2018 and discount him, but the reality is that Wren was used almost exclusively as a nose tackle in a 3-4 and, later, 3-3-5 defensive scheme throughout his college career. In those schemes, Wren was rarely asked to shoot up the field and mostly focused on reading and reacting to the offense, which didn’t really utilize his explosiveness.
Given his quick get off and sheer strength and athleticism, Wren could be an ideal fit for the 3-technique that Dallas seeks in their scheme. The biggest question mark with Wren is over his hand usage and repertoire of pass rush moves, but it’s a chicken-or-the-egg kind of argument over whether he didn’t show much on tape because of what his college scheme asked him to do or if he really just isn’t refined in those areas.
Nevertheless, if Wren found himself in Dallas he’d be working with the esteemed defensive line guru Rod Marinelli, and could use the OTA’s and training camp to hone his pass rushing technique a bit more. But looking at the physical attributes Wren has, the ceiling with him is very high if in the right scheme with proper coaching. Prior to the Senior Bowl, Wren was projected as a third-round prospect at the very best, but with all the heads he’s been turning, he could rise.