The No. 13 pick in last year’s NFL Draft has received a lot of praise from all over the NFL world during the last year, and on Thursday, he got the ultimate compliment from one of the best pass rushers in the NFL—his teammate, Shaquil Barrett.
“Tristan is probably—not probably—Tristan is the best tackle that I’ve played against. He most definitely learns from his mistakes and then most definitely don’t repeat the same mistakes at all anymore. So, it’s going to be good going against him this training camp that’s coming up because it’s going to make me a better player—make me have to work on different pass rushes and different game plans and different schemes for going against certain tackles. So, if I’m able to break him down and be able to get some wins on him, it’s most definitely gonna translate over to other tackles in the league.”
It’s truly remarkable just how good Wirfs was as a rookie in 2020. He played all 1,280 of the Bucs’ offensive snaps and allowed just ONE sack in 799 pass-blocking snaps. His quarterback pressure rate (3%) was also the fourth-lowest of any tackle in the NFL. And now for the 2019 NFL sack leader to already consider him the best he’s ever faced, that’s quite a good sign for what’s to come in the future.
Such a compliment from a supremely talented pass rusher also shows just how far the 22-year-old Wirfs has come in his first year as a pro. Head coach Bruce Arians just said on Wednesday that he thinks Wirfs was able to gain some confidence last summer by lining up against Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul in practice before getting into game action in September. So, for it to come full circle now with the two making each other better, it’s a classic case of iron sharpening iron.
Arians also went on to say that he believes “the sky is the limit for how good he can be,” and that’s hard to argue against. The former Iowa standout certainly had a case for Offensive Rookie of the Year last season and, if not for some positional bias, probably would’ve gotten more consideration for the honor. It’s not hard to see him as a future Pro Bowl selection and All-Pro, either. The honors should be rolling in for years to come with the trajectory that he’s on.
For Tampa Bay to have drafted a player of Wirfs’ caliber with the No. 13 pick last year? That’s turning out to be quite the steal.