With the fourth-round pick the Bengals received when trading back the day before in the second round, Renell Wren became the newest defensive lineman in Cincinnati. He is literally their biggest pick in quite some time.
Listed as 6’5 and 315 pounds on the team’s website, Wren towers over the average pass rusher. It’s the combination of that size and incredible athleticism that has coaches thinking Wren could figuratively be one of their biggest draft picks from the 2019 draft as well.
“He has some tools to be a dominant player,” Bengals’ defensive line coach Nick Eason told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “That’s that body type. He’s got the body type and the tools. The speed and agility to be a dominant player.”
Anyone who has watched even a little bit of Wren play can quickly see his combination of size, speed and length easily projects him to be an NFL player. If you haven’t seen some of his film from Arizona State yet, I highly suggest you check it out.
“Short area quickness, hip flexibility. Can a kid bend? Is he strong at the point of attack versus single and combo blocks on the run? Can he push the pocket? Does he have good quarterback pocket awareness? Is he a strong tackler?” Eason said. “He can do all those things. He’s very bright. He’s going to help us win us some games.”
This is obviously extremely high praise for a rookie. It has to be encouraging for fans to see coaches talking about Wren like this so early. Obviously, one of the biggest knocks on Wren coming out of college was his production (only one sack and 4.5 tackles for a loss in 2018) and limited sample size of having started just one season. The man responsible for him at Arizona State, former NFL player and head coach Herm Edwards, couldn’t be higher on Wren, though.
“What’s great about him is he doesn’t have bad habits,” Edwards said. “You’re not trying to re-create something.
“I don’t think he’s a project. How are you going to use him?” Edwards said. “Will he become a pass rusher inside? I would think he could be… He’s a raw football player. He’s got some strength, got some talent. He just hasn’t played enough football yet to know what his ceiling is going to be. Powerful man inside. Played with really good leverage. He’s tall for the position. At times he gets a little high. The more football he plays, it will help him. He’s a smart guy that can dominate at the line of scrimmage. He can dominate a center, no doubt. But he just needs more refining. He just needs more playing time to understand combination blocks and things of that nature that you have to feel to play inside like that.”
It is hard to imagine a player having a substantially better NFL career than college. It goes against the typical thought process on the matter. Usually stars from college (or even just good college players) make their way to the NFL and have success. It obviously isn’t new for a player to blossom in the NFL, but how can it happen? In Wren’s case, he seems to think that he had to change his mindset in order to improve. Something he didn’t realize early on in his career.
“Being able to know I wanted to play at the next level and being able to improve and make a living at it, I had to change some things around,” Wren said. “I had to change my circle… My freshman and sophomore (years), I was playing just to play. I liked just being on the team. I realized I wanted to do this for a living, so I decided to be more in the film room, be more on the iPad watching film and being in the weight room more.”
That obviously shows the quality of a person Wren is. It takes a big person to admit they need to make changes to their life in order to improve. That change in mindset could easily explain why he wasn’t as developed as you’d imagined he’d be at the end of his college career. It also helps illustrate a common theme from the 2019 draft class. Wren has the right mindset in order to have the best chance of reaching his potential.
“This kid loves football. He wants to learn,” Eason says. “He’s going to work. He takes coaching very well. He takes constructive criticism and that’s how I coach …This is a guy you want in the room.”
It is easy to get swept up with the idea that Wren could have a huge impact his rookie season, but the much more realistic expectation is that in a season or two the Bengals could have one of the biggest steals from the 2019 NFL Draft. (Pun intended)