Most knew that the Bucs landed a helluva player when they drafted Tristan Wirfs in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. What they didn’t know was that he would come in and immediately prove himself to be one of the best at his position.
Folks have recognized this, as well. Sure, being an integral part of a Super Bowl championship often garners extra attention, but Wirfs’ play speaks for itself.
The analysts over at Pro Football Focus -specifically Anthony Treash- are one of the many who believe Wirfs to be one of the best players at position. In fact, Treash recently ranked Wirfs as the sixth-best tackle in the NFL:
Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers desperately needed 13th overall pick Tristan Wirfs to step in as the starting right tackle and provide strong play right away. They got that and then some. He closed out his rookie regular season as the second-highest-graded right tackle in the NFL (82.2). His 81.0 pass-blocking grade is also the second-best mark in the PFF era (since 2006) by a rookie right tackle — behind only Marshal Yanda in 2007. Wirfs held his own against several top-notch pass-rushers, including Cameron Jordan and Joey Bosa, and is bound to continue to find success moving forward.
Only David Bakhtiari, Trent Williams, Ryan Ramczyk, Terron Armstead, and Ronnie Stanley rank higher than Wirfs. It’s impressive company when you consider all of them but Armstead have at least one first-team All-Pro nod under their belt(s).
And what’s even more impressive is that Wirfs finished with fewer pressures than all of those guys except Bakhtiari and Armstead when in a true pass set, per PFF. He also tied Bakhtiari with just one allowed sack when in a true pass set. That mark is fifth-best in the NFL among tackles with at least 446 pass-blocking snaps. Both players were also only one of 13 tackles to allow one sack or less in the same context.
What’s really interesting, however, is that Wirfs’ opposite, Donovan Smith, isn’t even on Treash’s list. Smith arguably had his best year in 2020, but still has a way to go before being considered a top player at his position.
The Bucs’ decision to draft Wirfs has already paid off. The scary part is he should get even better as the years pass. Having a player such as Wirfs to wall off the right side of the offensive line for the next decade has to be music to both the Bucs’ and their fan’s ears.