The months of speculation and assumption all collided with reality on Thursday night as the 2020 NFL Draft got underway. Working in circumstances new to everyone, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made Tristan Wirfs (Iowa) their first player taken in this year’s selection meeting.
Doing so cost Jason Licht his only remaining fourth-round pick following the trade for tight end Rob Gronkowski, but he also collected another seventh-round pick to add to the one he got from New England as well.
Afterwards, general manager Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians met with the media to discuss the pick.
“We saw that the run on tackles happened a little later than we expected,” said Licht. “And then we thought that there’s a chance that someone could come up and get him...and so we had to give up a little capital to go get him, but in this case we thought because of the player - the position - but especially the player that it was worth it.”
When asked about the traits Wirfs brings with him out of Iowa that attracted he and Bruce Arians to the offensive tackle, versatility and athleticism were the theme of the conversation.
From Licht, “We think he’s a versatile guy. He’s started at both right and left tackle and he’s done a good job at both positions.” Licht went on to say, “He’s an incredible athlete and I think that he still has a huge ceiling. He also has a high floor.”
Coach Arians also emphasized similar attributes, saying, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen one do the things he does athletically as far as numbers. On the tape, he’s a powerful powerful run blocker. Extremely light-footed, so you see everything you’re looking for.”
Of course, getting a rookie offensive lineman ready for NFL action is never easy, and will be made harder given the circumstances teams find themselves in with the spread and containment efforts related to COVID-19.
“He’s coming from a program that is so similar to what we do, set wise and pass protections. Run game wise, he’s extremely well coached. So, I think he’s ahead of the curve that way, and should allow us to put him in the lineup when he is ready.”
Keep it tuned in to Bucs Nation as the 2020 NFL Draft continues, and make sure to tune in to the Locked On Bucs Podcast for reaction and analysis to every pick!