It’s already been a strange, busy and pretty fantastic offseason for the Buccaneers. Free agency saw them bring back Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh. They answered their quarterback question in the biggest way possible by signing Tom Brady. And just this week, they traded for future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is leaving retirement behind after one year to once again join forces with his quarterback.
And while making all of those moves, Tampa Bay still had the 2020 NFL Draft to prepare for. It had to do so without traditional pro days and in-person visits, plus everyone had to ensure they had secure internet connection and workable home office setups. Why? Because this year, due to the current circumstances, the draft went virtual.
So, that brings us to day one. Coming in, it was clear that the Bucs were needing to key in on one of the top four offensive tackles and hope that one would fall to them. Things worked out pretty well, but to be sure they could get the last one available, they made a trade. Moving up one spot to pick No. 13, Tampa Bay added some protection for Brady in the form of Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs. Here, we have three things you need to know about him.
He was a decorated multi-sport athlete in high school
If you look all across the NFL, you’ll see guys who were absolute monsters on the field at their respective high schools. Of course they were, right? These guys are the best of the best. Wirfs was no different, but he was that dude in a number of different sports. He played some baseball growing up and learned to bike, swim and ice skate at a young age. Then, at Mount Vernon High School, he was an absolute star on the football, wrestling and track and field teams.
He was a three-year letterman on the football team, playing both offensive and defensive line. As a senior, he helped his team advance to the state championship game, picking up a laundry list of honors along the way. One of Mount Vernon’s captains, Wirfs was named to the Des Moines Register all-state team and was awarded the captain spot on the 2A Iowa Newspaper Association all-state team in addition to earning district offensive line MVP and the 2A Iowa Preps Offensive Lineman of the Year Award. To top it all off, the big man was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
After his senior season of football, Wirfs picked up his fourth letter as a wrestler and won a state championship to boot. But no, he wasn’t done. In the spring, he earned his fourth letter in track and field, having a spectacular final season. After winning the state title in discus and shot put as a junior, he did so again as a senior. That made him the fourth Iowa high school athlete to win titles in both events in back-to-back years. Plus, he became the first Iowa athlete since 1950 to win the discus championship in three consecutive years. And with three titles in the Drake Relays, he left Mount Vernon as a legend in yet another sport.
So, yeah. You can safely say that Tristan Wirfs is pretty well-rounded as an athlete. But more on that later...
He is the latest in a long line of great linemen from the University of Iowa
Since Kirk Ferentz became the head coach at Iowa in 1999, there have been 17 Hawkeyes offensive linemen selected in the NFL Draft. Among them? Marshal Yanda (recently retired after making eight Pro Bowls in 13 seasons with Baltimore), Bryan Bulaga (entering his 11th season, starting new with the Chargers after 10 years in Green Bay) and Brandon Scherff (a three-time Pro Bowler in five seasons with Washington).
On Thursday night, Wirfs became the 18th Iowa offensive lineman drafted since 1999, doing so after a storied career with the Hawkeyes. For starters, he became the first true freshman to start at offensive tackle in Ferentz’s tenure and was one of only two true freshmen to be named to the 2017 Leadership Group for Iowa. For his efforts, he was given the Next Man In Award.
As a sophomore in 2018, Big Ten media and coaches both named him as an honorable mention for the all-conference team after he started 12 games at right tackle. Then, to finish off his career with Iowa, he had a great 2019. According to Pro Football Focus, Wirfs totaled 436 pass block snaps and allowed just seven total pressures, which translates to pressures on just 1.61% of pass block snaps. And just two of those seven pressures were sacks (two more were hits and the other three were hurries).
It’s no surprise that he was an All-American, the Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year for the Big Ten and a first-team All-Big Ten selection as a senior. He earned team awards as well, being given the Iron Hawk Award and the Team Hustle Award. Wirfs certainly lived up to the rich offensive line tradition that Iowa holds.
Wirfs has ridiculous size, speed and power... and he’s put that on display often
Some of things that Wirfs can do physically have to be seen to be believed. The guy is exceptionally large, standing at 6-foot-5, 320 pounds. But he is more than just a big man. He’s a freakish athlete, really. And he’s been no stranger to putting his well-rounded athleticism on display in the past.
At the NFL Scouting Combine, Wirfs ran the fastest 40-yard dash time of any offensive lineman in this year’s class, clocking in at 4.86 seconds. Just watch him run:
4.86 40-yard dash— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 28, 2020
36.5" vertical 10'1" broad jump Tristan Wirfs is EXPLOSIVE.
What? How does a human being that big run that fast? It really doesn’t make sense. Speaking of things that don’t make sense, how can anyone of any size do this?
New Bucs OT Tristan Wirfs really did this— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 24, 2020
(via tristan_wirfs74/IG) pic.twitter.com/dT3kxH0wS6
That’s unreal. And don’t think for a second that his quickness and overall athleticism come at the expense of pure strength. He has that too. While at Iowa, he broke Brandon Scherff’s hang clean record, putting up four reps at 450 pounds. His teammates went absolutely crazy for it:
Yeah, the Bucs got themselves an absolute stud to protect their new quarterback. The fact that he even fell to them is crazy, as the ESPN NFL Draft Predictor had a 2% chance of him being available by the No. 13 pick. That sounds like a pretty significant steal. He is going to be fun to watch on Sundays.
There you have it, Bucs fans. Tristan Wirfs is your new right tackle. You can find him on Twitter at @TristanWirfs74. Be sure to take some time to congratulate him and welcome him to Tampa Bay!