Bengals: Don’t forget about uber-athletic DT Renell Wren
The Cincinnati Bengals have numerous concerns to address if they’re going to close the gap that exists between themselves and the rest of the AFC North. Chief among their most pressing issues is the offensive line, of course. Not far behind, however, is the lackluster pass rush.
Simply put, the Bengals were abysmal at getting after the quarterback last year. When all was said and done, they finished with the fewest sacks in the league, only bringing opposing signal-callers to the ground 17 times.
Gone is long time cornerstone Carlos Dunlap. There’s a good chance franchise pillar Geno Atkins will be following him out the door this offseason as well. Making matters even worse, Carl Lawson, the only player in stripes that consistently generated pressure last year, is set to hit the open market by the time March rolls around.
All of these factors should combine to put the front office on high alert. They’ll have to scour the free-agent market, trade block, and draft prospect pool if they want to claw their way out of the depths of pass rush despair.
The good news is, while outside reinforcements are undeniably needed, the team may already have a portion of the solution to their problem already on the roster in defensive tackle Renell Wren.
Renell Wren brings uber-athleticism to a Bengals unit that needs it
Renell Wren came to the Queen City as part of Zac Taylor’s first draft class at the helm of the Bengals. After spending his collegiate days at Arizona State, he heard his name called in the fourth round.
Year one, as to be expected with many rookie players trying to make the jump to the league, saw him only earn limited snaps. Year two brought plenty of optimism.
Unfortunately, Wren suffered a season-ending injury before the season even came. A brutal blow to a Cincinnati club that desperately could have used his services throughout the 2020 campaign.
Now expected to be fully healthy by the time next season begins, Wren can use his astounding physical traits to help the Bengals solve their pass-rushing problems.
To get an idea of just how athletic the 6’5, 315-pound tackle is, look no further than his relative athletic score, a metric designed by Kent Lee Platte to rate a player’s physical traits on a scale from 1-10.
Wren scored a whopping 9.74, grading out with elite explosion, great size, and good speed/agility. In other words, the 25-year-old has every tool you could realistically ask for. That should be music to the ears of freshly-hired defensive line coach Marion Hobby, a guy who has a proven track record of developing players.
Wren will have the benefit of lining up next to D.J. Reader, a guy that often commands double teams. That should theoretically free him up to push the pocket from the interior, helping the guys on the edge to hit home more often.
Of course, Wren has to come back healthy and prove his quad injury didn’t dampen some of his promising athletic ability. From there, he likely still has some more developing to do.
Regardless, the Missouri native possesses the profile that could make him a significant contributor to the Bengals’ efforts to generate more pressure and there’s a good chance he can find his footing before a rookie acquisition does. That should be remembered in an offseason that promises to see plenty of roster turnover.