I already discussed the team’s situation at the position on the topic of Dexter Lawrence as a draft fit for the Patriots. The team is 3-deep at the position and could definitely use a development player at the position for depth purposes in case of an injury and have a young player ready to go when their top 3 guys reach free agency. Two of the three players on the Patriots DT depth chart are from Arizona State, which has produced another draftable DT prospect in Renell Wren.
Arm: 33 7/8”
225-lb Bench Reps: 30
Broad Jump: 9’10”
5-10-5 Shuttle: 4.53
- Scheme versatility: can fit 1 (3 or 1-tech) or 2 gap scheme (5-tech)
- Extreme quickness off the snap
- Ideal size and strength for the position
- Raw prospect
- Hand usage underdeveloped for pro prospect
- Didn’t become full time starter until his redshirt senior season
Reasons Why the Patriots Would Draft Him
Wren is a freak athlete for his size and profiles more as a 3-tech in an even front and 5-tech in an odd front. Most of his flaws are correctable with quality coaching, although the Patriots currently do not have a DL coach named yet. The combination of size and strength makes him an ideal fit in a 2-gapping scheme although his athleticism also translates well to a 1-gap scheme should the Patriots change up the defensive approach like in Super Bowl LIII. While the pass rush from a production standpoint is probably never going to be great, he should be a reliable pocket pusher on the inside. His length also makes him a candidate for the FG block unit on special teams as well.
Reasons Why the Patriots Would Not Draft Him
Even though Wren was recruited by Todd Graham, a friend of Belichick’s, he didn’t amount to much in Graham’s 4 years there. It wasn’t until they replaced Graham with Herm Edwards that he became productive on the defense. Wren also offers little value on defense in the early stage while the coaching staff works on fixing his hand technique and recognition abilities. His boom/bust profile likely makes handicaps his draft window until the 3rd round or later.
Who He Has to Beat Out: David Perry, Frank Herron
Same guys that I mentioned with Dexter Lawrence
Rookie Year Projection
Wren would be the 4th DT in the rotation who plays sparingly in the rotation (~25% snaps) while he works with his technique. The Patriots do not have a DL coach named yet, although speculation suggests Bret Bielema, who coached Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise Jr. in college, could be that guy. Wren would also see time on the FG block team where his size and ability to push the pocket could be an asset.
Long Term Projection
Wren has a boom/bust profile, but in the case the Patriots hit boom they would have a surefire starter at the position by the time Guy, Pennel, and Butler hit unrestricted free agency. Wren has the ability to impact the game in the run when playing next to bigger DTs and taking on 1-on-1 blocks. Double teams could give him an issue early on until Wren can add a bit more lower body weight to build a sturdier anchor.
Grade: 4/5 Future Starter
The boom/bust potential is a bit scary for Rounds 1 and 2, although Belichick has taken chances in the 2nd and 3rd rounds in years past. The Patriots have decent depth at the position for now going into the draft, so they’re not too desperate for a plug and play starter should one fall to them.