The 2020 NFL Draft features one of the most talented classes in recent years, from big-name quarterbacks like Joe Burrow to cornerbacks like Jeff Okudah. However, one of the true standout positions is that of the offensive lineman.
There are several offensive linemen that are expected to go in the first round, and according Rotoworld’s Thor Nygard, OT Tristan Wirfs is the best available name. In his mock draft, Chris Simms has Wirfs going to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at pick 14.
Standing at 6-5, 320 pounds, Wirfs’ size and strength alone makes him one of the top tackle prospects in recent years. A former state champion wrestler, Wirfs puts in work in the weight room, and it easily translates onto the field — and also showed at the combine with record-breaking and record-matching scores (new record of 36.5″ for the vertical jump). In addition to the combine, he also shattered school records and received multiple accolades for his performance.
With the Hawkeyes, Wirfs appeared on the scene when he became the first true freshman to start for Iowa in the Kirk Ferentz era. He started eight of 10 games, with seven of those being at right tackle, and when he was tasked with playing on the left side, he had no problem with the switch. Over his college career, he handled every challenge and transition with ease.
A dominant presence, he has the power and strength to throw back his opponents and pack a punch, and also moves with smoothness and fluidity. His footwork and awareness alone, in tandem with his strength and size, will make him a beast at the NFL level.
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However, there are areas of his game that need improvement, including positioning and angles while improving on playing lower and adding to his technique.
Nygard points out that Wirfs has improved significantly and that his weaknesses are ones that can easily be corrected, especially when taking into account his coachability and work ethic.
“Heading into last year, Wirfs was an amalgamation of all-world tools that he hadn’t completely put together yet. His 2019 campaign gave a great indication of where he could be headed as an NFL player. Wirfs’ PFF grade improved from 74.8 to 91.3 (No. 4 nationally among tackles). He’s shoring up his weaknesses quickly and heads into the NFL confirmed to be one of the great tackle athletes the league has ever seen.”