It’s too soon to tell whether any will succeed as pro football players, but there were no bad athletes taken in the first round of the NFL draft. And of all the prospects who were prodded, poked, and psychoanalyzed beforehand, Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs is the most impressive specimen of them all.
Tristan Wirfs made quite an impression in college
The first line of Tristan Wirfs’ college football resume says a lot about his talent as a lineman. He started seven games in the 2017 season, making him the first true freshman to start at offensive tackle during the Kirk Ferentz era at Iowa, a school with a reputation for churning out NFL linemen.
Wirfs was first-team All-Big Ten last fall for the Hawkeyes and made the decision to enter the NFL draft at just 21 years old, which is on the young side for a top lineman.
He was a guy that coaches and general managers wanted to see at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, and Wirfs did not disappoint. At 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds, Wirfs broke the record for offensive linemen with a 36.5-inch vertical leap and tied the record for the standing broad jump at 10-1. No one his size has ever run the 40-yard dash at the week-long combine in the 4.85 seconds he clocked.
With three other offensive tackles already off the board, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided they could not risk losing Wirfs and traded up to the No. 13 overall pick.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are getting a well-rounded athlete
The Iowa Hawkeyes knew what they were getting when they won the recruiting battle for Tristan Wirfs his senior year at Mount Vernon High in Iowa City. College coaches love three-sport athletes, and Wirfs was his state’s best. Besides being a star lineman in football, he achieved at the highest levels in wrestling and track and field.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie played his senior football season at 322 pounds and then cut down to squeeze into wrestling’s heavyweight division, which has a 285-pound limit, and won a state championship.
In the spring of his senior season, he won the state titles in the shot put and discus, giving him five championships in the sport for his career. His mark of 66-3 ¼ in the shot put is second in state history. Perhaps most impressively, Wirfs became the first high school boy in 25 years to sweep the weight events at the Drake Relays, a huge meet drawing top fields from throughout the midwestern United States.
What’s in store now for Tristan Wirfs
Tristan Wirfs has found a better landing spot than the three offensive tackles taken ahead of him on Thursday in the first round of the NFL draft. Andrew Thomas of Georgia (New York Giants), Jedrick Wills of Alabama (Cleveland Browns), and Mekhi Becton of Louisville (New York Jets) are all heading to franchises in varying states of disarray.
Meanwhile, Wirfs has landed with a Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were 7-9 last season but have upgraded at the most important position on the field by signing free-agent quarterback Tom Brady to lead an offense with plenty of weapons. Wirfs walks into an offensive line situation with the starting right guard position up for grabs.
Although the line as a whole isn’t spectacular, left guard Ali Marpet and center Ryan Jensen are above average. Wirfs will be surrounded by veterans protecting a quarterback who knows how to get rid of the ball when a play breaks down.