The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, along with the rest of the NFL, have concluded their draft. Each team knows who they have brought in, now its time for the fans to get to know the new players to root for! In the first round, 13th overall, the Buccaneers selected Tristian Wirfs, offensive tackle, Iowa.
From early on, Wirfs displayed his physical abilities in multiple disciplines. Playing everything from football, wrestling, and track and field. But he didn’t only participate, he dominated. Wirfs earned state titles in wrestling, discuss, and shot put. He aided the Mount Vernon High School football team to the state 2A semifinals. Additionally, his talents were on display early and the prowess he showed earned him a college scholarship his junior year. Not only was he masterful in competition, he was also an Honor Roll Student during High School.
Subsequently, after graduating Wirfs remained in Iowa and became a Hawkeye. Entering the 2017 season, Wirfs was touted as one of Iowa’s four-star recruits who may make an impact early. Hawkeye fans wouldn’t be disappointed. As one of the first freshmen to start at offensive tackle for Kirk Ferentz, Wirfs began his trial by fire early.
During the 2017 season, Wirfs’ evaluation saw a grade of 59.3 from Pro Football Focus (subscription required). That ranked him 247th out of 317 tackles. Though he had a rough start, he continued to grow. In 2018, he cut his pressures down by half on roughly a 54% increase in snaps. Wirfs footwork improved his sophomore year as well as the use of his hands. He started to truly utilize the strength he exhibited during the combine and in weight lifting Buccaneers fans have most likely seen by now.
For an NFL prospect to show growth from year to year is important. It shows they are honing physical talents, getting stronger, and studying the game to improve their football I.Q. Wirfs surely continues to do so. The growth continued in 2019 when he earned a 91.8 season grade placing him fourth out of 398 tackles according to Pro Football Focus.
This work ethic has pushed Wirfs to the forefront of the offensive tackle group from this year’s draft. It paid off as he is the 2019 Big Ten Offensive Lineman Of The Year and a 2019 First Team All Big Ten selectee.
With Wirfs work ethic and love of the gym, he will continue to grow. He’ll further study the game and make it slow down for him. Wirfs will start his rookie year in the NFL much as he did in Iowa. His acclimation will be quick and impact immediately. This progress will be due in part because he played in an NFL style system in Iowa. Once he’s in practice with the Buccaneers, he should pick up where he left off.
His strength sits in the run game. A mauler with strong hands, Wirfs will develop his mobility and field of vision quickly becoming an anchor for the run game. The backfield looks to improve with just his addition to the line. His power will be on display adding to the Buccaneers’ ability to establish the run. Though there is room for improvement here, he will have a large impact early.
Pass protection will be key for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020. With Tom Brady on board, the team needs to protect their new quarterback. Wirfs will do just that. Even without starting a game in the NFL he is already an upgrade at the right tackle position. His speed and agility will quickly be utilized while the game comes to him. Once it does, his hands, footwork, and use of leverage will improve. Again, much like with run blocking, he has the tools, traits, and power to continue to develop.
Tristian Wirfs has everything the Buccaneers could ask for from a rookie first-round selection as a right tackle. He’s a building block player that could wear Tampa’s uniform for a decade or more.
For more, follow us on twitter @Bucs_Report and me at @BucSalty!