The Los Angeles Chargers need to find their next playmaker on the interior of the defensive line. How does ASU’s Renell Wren stack up?
The Los Angeles Chargers are likely to take an offensive tackle at No. 28 overall, leaving free safety and interior defensive line as their two biggest remaining needs. In such a deep draft for the defensive line, the Bolts may wait until the third round or later to take their guy in the middle. Tom Telesco may find his man in Arizona State’s Renell Wren.
Game of interest: Arizona State vs Michigan State, 2018
Wren can be incredibly disruptive, using a quick first step when allowed to run forward. Against Michigan State, there were multiple instances of No. 95 absolutely blowing up a run play, usually driving the opposing lineman straight into the ball carrier. If you want to see what I mean, click here. Otherwise, here’s a sample of a similar play made at the Senior Bowl practices:
Renell Wren is a machine. His first steps on the interior plus his swim can be dynamite pic.twitter.com/OOf6ok0qvG
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) January 22, 2019
In the same way former Chargers’ DT Darius Philon would make splash plays a few times a game, Wren makes a couple of his own, particularly early on. He’s one of the most gifted physical athletes in this class.
And, for what it’s worth, Wren dropped into coverage half a dozen times against the Spartans.
How does an athletic, disruptive defensive tackle be projected as a third round selection? Three things: Lack of consistency, lack of a good counter move, and recognition problems. If you watch Wren play against Michigan State, you’d better watch the whole game. The first half to two-thirds has a handful of eye-popping plays; the last third or so has next to no production from Wren. Either the offensive line figured him out, or his effort/conditioning needs to be called into question. When the offensive lineman got his hands on Wren first, No. 95 was really unable to do much to counter. He will need a good amount of coaching at the next level.
Another concern is his lack of recognition on some run plays. There were a number of times against Michigan State where a running back would run right by him and it’s as if he had no idea the ball was coming that way. He’s focused so much on blowing up his man and trying to kill the ball carrier that he can look more like he’s working a sled than trying to shed a blocker to make a play.
Draft Projection: Third round
There’s so much to like about what Wren can do, but it’s important to understand that his three major deficiencies will limit him at the next level. The Chargers’ coaching staff has done a great job of developing their defensive line, from Joey Bosa at third overall to Darius Philon and Isaac Rochell in the sixth and seventh round. He’s going to be a bit of a boom-or-bust selection, but if the organization believes they can get the most out of him in between two Pro-Bowl defensive ends, it’s worth a shot.