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Bucs Draft Profile: Offensive Tackle, Tristan Wirfs

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Checking in on the third member of the “Big Four”.

NCAA Football: Miami (Ohio) at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive line is considered a priority for the Buccaneers in the 2020 NFL Draft, so it’d be very remiss of us if we didn’t cover all of the prospects that make up the “Big Four”.

We’ve done Andrew Thomas and Mekhi Becton, so now it’s Tristan Wirfs’ turn.

Tristan Wirfs’ Collegiate Career

Wirfs came out of Mount Vernon High School as a four-star prospect who won multiple awards throughout his high school days and also lettered in track and field.

He wasn’t very sought-after, but that has a lot to do with being a “homestater” from Iowa. There was just one other school in the mix - Michigan State - and Wirfs’ trip up to East Lansing just made him want to stay close to home that much more.

So Kirk Ferentz brought Wirfs on board in 2017. He appeared in three games before making the first start of his career against Illinois. He opened up the Illinois game at right tackle and started there for the rest of the season. That’s no small achievement, either. Wirfs was the first true freshman to ever start at either tackle position in the Ferentz era.

2018 saw Wirfs start at right tackle in every game but one. He was given an honorable mention on the All-Big Ten team by league coaches and media that year.

2019 is where things really took off for the former Mount Vernon product. He started in all 13 games, but this time, he started three at left tackle and 10 at right tackle. His phenomenal junior season led to an avalanche of awards that included:

  • First-team All-America selection by Football Writers, Walter Camp Foundation and Phil Steele
  • Second-team All-America selection by The Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association, and The Athletic
  • Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year in the Big Ten Conference
  • First-team All-Big Ten selection by league coaches and media
  • First-team All-Big Ten selection by The Associated Press and Phil Steele
  • One of six semifinalists for the Outland Trophy award

Those are great, but I doubt they hold up against my little league trophy....

Wirfs’ ability to play both sides and his insane athleticism led him to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft early.

Pros

Let’s start with the obvious and that’s Wirfs’ insane athleticism:

Those are some pretty ridiculous marks for someone who is 6-foot-5, 320-pounds. He’s strong enough to handle most assignments in the NFL, but he also possess smooth footwork and is quick out his stance, so he’s not just about power.

The Hawkeyes ran a lot of inside and outside zone during Wirfs’ career. They also ran a pro-style system, so Wirfs has been exposed to a lot before entering the draft. The fact that he excelled in all phases of Iowa’s offense is certainly something to get excited about.

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein said this about Wirfs in his draft profile:

Right tackle with elite body type and freaky testing potential who might fall victim to elevated expectations based upon traits and Iowa pedigree. He has tremendous core strength and moves smoothly, over-sets and isn’t the explosive drive-blocker former Iowa star tackle Brandon Scherff was. Wirfs has tools to handle gap-blocking duties while thriving in outside zone. If Wirfs can learn to play inside out and add a more effective jump-set into his repertoire, he could take a big step forward. Consistency of play could take some time, but he has the ability to become a good starter at either right tackle or guard.

He has all the physical tools, but he has the right mentality to make things work in the NFL, as well.

There’s little reason to think Wirfs can’t come in and be a starter by Week 1.

Cons

As with most prospects, there are a few technique issues to be corrected. Wirfs can lose control at times and can over-set his blocks, which opens him up for nothing but trouble. Those “weaknesses” can be corrected, however, with proper coaching.

The biggest con with Wirfs is where he will play. There are many professional scouts that see him as a more effective guard than tackle in the NFL.

How big of a falloff is there between his ability to play the two positions? Why would a team want to play him at tackle if he’s better at guard? Wouldn’t you want to maximize his abilities? I mean, that’s what coaching at the NFL level is all about, right?

When you consider the fact that Wirfs is likely to go in the top-15 of the draft, this is arguable the most important aspect to figure out. It would be criminal to limit the abilities of one of the foundational pieces on your team.

Why The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Need Tristan Wirfs

As we all know, the Bucs have a shaky offensive line, especially on the right side.

Wirfs could come in and instantly improve the unit, but where would he play? Do the Bucs see him as a guard? If so, that means Wirfs is coming in to compete with Alex Cappa and the Bucs still have to figure out what they want to do at the right tackle position. If they see him as tackle, it’s an easier scenario to figure out. That means Wirfs is coming to compete with Joe Haeg and the Bucs now have viable starters at the right tackle spot and they also have depth along the line.

Either way, the Bucs could certainly stand to use someone like Wirfs on the roster.

Should It Happen?

When it comes to elite offensive linemen and the Bucs in this year’s draft, it seems like a no-brainer that the Bucs take one of these guys.

But what do YOU think? Should the Bucs take Wirfs? Let us know in the poll and comments below!

Poll

How Do You Feel About Tristan Wirfs For The Buccaneers In The 2020 NFL Draft?

This poll is closed

  • 48%
    Draft Him No Matter What
    (157 votes)
  • 3%
    Trade Back Candidate
    (11 votes)
  • 38%
    I Wouldn’t Mind It
    (126 votes)
  • 8%
    There Are Better Options
    (26 votes)
  • 1%
    Nope
    (4 votes)
324 votes total Vote Now