Congratulations! You've just made the wonderful decision to draft Tristan Wirfs! Like most new Tristan Wirfs owners, you're no doubt filled with questions about your new family member. We here at GIA will try our best to answer any questions you might have.
TAMPA TOMPA BAY BUCCANEERS!
WHAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT TRISTAN WIRFS?
Wirfs is capable of doing things that a 320 lb man should not be able to do -- and he does them with breathtaking ease. But Wirfs also isn't just some hyper-athletic freak show; he's an incredibly good football player, too. He arrived at Iowa with considerable hype as a 4* prospect -- and proceeded to immediately live up to that hype by becoming the first true freshman to start at offensive tackle in Kirk Ferentz's 20+ years at Iowa. Wirfs started at right tackle in the sixth game of his true freshman season in 2017... and he basically never left the starting lineup over the following 2.5 years, starting 32 of the next 33 games.
Earning a starting job as a freshman was impressive, but Wirfs became more than just a precocious youngster as a sophomore in 2018 -- he became a legitimate standout, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten consideration and beginning to earn serious attention from NFL scouts. He went from being a standout to a superstar as a junior in 2019, anchoring Iowa's offensive line, earning All-America honors from multiple outlets, and being named Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year. Just three years removed from high school, Wirfs had become one of the best offensive linemen in college football -- that's pretty special.
WHAT DID HE DO THAT'S SO GREAT?
As noted, Wirfs is an incredible athlete, which he's been able to translate into phenomenal play as (primarily) a right tackle. In addition to excelling at football, Wirfs was also a superb wrestler and track and field star in high school (two-time state champion in shot put and discus) and that all-around versatility is a big part of his game. His skill as a wrestler gives him great footwork and the ability to use leverage; his track and field acumen shows up as part of his immense strength, which he uses to wreak havoc against opposing defenders. He also moves smoothly and has good lateral quickness, as well as a strong first step. He absolutely mauls opponents in the run game and he's developed into a strong pass blocker, with the ability to use raw power and quickness and technique to keep pass rushers away from the quarterback.
Wirfs also has tremendous versatility; while he played primarily as a right tackle at Iowa, he also saw time at left tackle when Iowa's starting left tackle was injured -- and he didn't miss a beat when flipping from one side of the line to the other, even when doing so in the middle of a game. And while Wirfs played tackle almost exclusively at Iowa, his skill set should be able to work inside as well, if needed. Tampa Bay is drafting Wirfs to fill a hole at right tackle and he should do very well there -- but if he's needed elsewhere on the line, he should be able to do a good job there as well.
Come on, he's an offensive lineman.
HOW ARE HIS PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES?
This is what Wirfs did at the Combine:
|40 YD DASH||BENCH PRESS||VERT JUMP||BROAD JUMP||3 CONE||20 YD SHUTTLE|
|4.85 sec||24 reps||36.5 in||121.0 in||7.65 sec||4.68 sec|
4.85 40-yard dash: Fastest among all OL this year— NFL (@NFL) February 28, 2020
36.5" vertical jump: OL record (since '03)
10'1" broad jump: OL record (T-1 since '03)@TristanWirfs74 is all smiles #NFLCombine pic.twitter.com/DzIUnTiwmj
Yeah, his physical attributes are just fine.
WHAT ABOUT THE BAD?
The biggest knock on Wirfs is probably that he isn't a finished product yet. He's a bit rawer and somewhat less consistent than you're likely to see in an Iowa lineman... but a lot of that is down to his meteoric rise through the ranks in college. Since he started as a true freshman and departed after his junior season, Wirfs only spent three seasons at Iowa; most OL products at Iowa end up spending five years in Kirk Ferentz's Finishing School, one year redshirting and four years as part of the team proper. Wirfs was good enough to blow up that timeline, but that also meant that he didn't get quite as much tutelage as past Iowa standouts on the offensive line. So Wirfs does have a few things he needs to clean up in terms of his mechanics, like footwork and over-setting, and he needs to continue to show more consistency in terms of showcasing a dominant effort. But he improved in all of those areas each year at Iowa and there's little reason to think that he can't continue to improve and fine-tune his performance as a pro, too.
WAS THIS A GOOD PICK?
Definitely -- especially down at #13. Wirfs was considered by several scouts and NFL draft analysts to be the best offensive lineman in this year's draft as well as a likely Top 10 pick. For him to fall down to #13 is surprising -- but that slight tumble could easily be Tampa's gain. While Wirfs still needs to fine-tune some aspects of his game and isn't a finished product, he's already very very good and has so much raw potential that his ceiling is "perennial Pro Bowler." Call me crazy, but that seems like a pretty solid guy to take in the middle of the first round. Enjoy Tristan, Bucs fans -- Iowa fans certainly have over the last three years.