Our next prospect is Tristan Wirfs from Iowa. This guy is another force to be reckoned with and should hopefully hear his name called the first day of the draft.
Tristan Wirfs has a similar build to Thomas and can also be a game-changer for several NFL teams. He has tremendous upper body strength and at 6’5 322 ibs., he can be tough to get past. He also played in arguably the second toughest conference in college football. So, Wirfs has had his fair share of going up against elite competition.
He also possesses impressive run-blocking skills and is very quick with his feet. His quickness is something NFL scouts will fall in love with.
Wirfs has exceptional pass-blocking skills and is quick to stay on his feet. His ability to open up his hips and stay mobile throughout the play is something NFL scouts will love to see.
His size has a huge role to play in his football career. He is built perfectly for an offensive lineman, and there is no doubt that he uses it to his advantage. I see him as one of the top two guys in this years draft in the offensive lineman group. From what I have watched, Wirfs is talented both in the run blocking and pass blocking game. I think he dominates in the run game, with that being his strength. His lower body will help him punish defenders in the NFL no doubt.
Tristan Wirfs is another mountain of a man. He stands 6’5 322 lbs. He comes from a conference known for churning out great offensive linemen. While Wirfs is the all-around best lineman in the class he does have the best feet. This makes him tough to get around him with just speed. With his combination of quick feet and size, getting around Wirfs is like trying to get around a brick wall that keeps expanding with every step you take.
Like Andrew Thomas, Wirfs is a mobile brick wall and was successful in a more power-run, pro-style heavy conference. Also like Thomas, he is more polished as a pass-blocker even though his run-blocking skills are at a top-level. Whoever selects Wirfs will have the anchor of their offensive line and their franchise left-tackle for years to come. His size and mobility make him a can’t miss for a team in the top-ten needing their left tackle.
Iowa has produced some great offensive linemen over the years and Tristan Wirfs will look to continue that trend. At 6’5” and 322, Wirfs is a big dude. His frame is already up to par with some of the most successful NFL linemen. He has gone back and forth between left tackle and right tackle in college. Versatility is huge, especially for offensive linemen. His run blocking is superb too. His skills for creating run lanes are fantastic and is arguably the best in this class of linemen.
Tristan Wirfs is the second best offensive tackle prospect in this draft behind Andrew Thomas. He has similar skills to Thomas, but Thomas is much more polished than Wirfs is. I would say Wirfs is more polished in his run blocking than his pass blocking because of his speed and strength.
One issue I noticed with Wirfs is that on certain pass blocking plays, he struggles to finish defenders on their second move. This causes him to lose balance and fall. One game I noticed this happening was the 2019 game against an elite Wisconsin Badgers defense. Wirfs held his own ground throughout the game, but there were certain plays where defenders would cruise past him and Wirfs would lose balance and fall to the ground almost instantly.
Like Thomas, there are also times when Wirfs struggles with leverage and blocks too high. This can easily be fixed with the right coaching.
With his footwork and speed, I do not see coaches having a tough time working with Wirfs to fix these issues.
I haven’t watched enough film on Wirfs to come to a solid conclusion, but he seems to struggle on the right side of the line, more so right tackle. I don’t see this as a huge problem, however. Wirfs is going to have plenty of time to develop in the NFL, and if playing right tackle is his biggest weakness, I see Wirfs becoming a long-time veteran in the National Football League.
The biggest red flag on Wirfs is the fact he played Right Tackle in college. When drafting a Tackle in the first round you hope for him to protect your quarterback’s blindside. However, in the NFL, great pass rushers are typically moved around the line. Meaning you have to be solid on both ends.
Wirfs is slightly less polished than Thomas, but that judgement could change after a solid combine. His lack of athleticism at times is the most major thing as he’s not as flexible and quick on his feet. In college he could get away with it at playing tackle, but in the NFL he could face problems from speedy edge-rushers and linebackers at the second level.
If this shows and becomes a problem for him at tackle in the NFL, he could be moved to guard which isn’t a bad thing. He certainly has the size and athleticism to play NFL guard already, and utilizing his strengths while hiding his weaknesses would be a smart coaching move.
Despite the fact that Wirfs did play both tackle spots, he was more familiar with the right tackle spot. His excellent run blocking could mean a switch to guard becomes possible. Teams who are selecting early in the first round are looking for a franchise left tackle to protect their young QBs. His stock could drop because of the uncertainty at what his best position is. Wirfs runs into an issue when trying to block his opponent’s counter or second move. With how developed NFL pass rushers are today, that could become an issue when going up against the top pass rushers in the league.
Draft Projection: Where will one of the Big Ten’s top offensive lineman prospects land in the 2020 NFL Draft?
Tristan Wirfs possesses all the skills to be a top 10 pick in the draft. He just needs to polish them up a bit and I really think he can nail his combine. If I were to predict, I would say somewhere in the top 10-15. One great fit would be the Browns at 10, who need more protection around Baker Mayfield and another franchise tackle. It would not surprise me at all if Andrew Thomas goes earlier than 10 or even the top 5. The Browns cannot go wrong with drafting the second best offensive tackle and also their new franchise tackle in Tristan Wirfs. If he were to fall because of his issues, I do like the Raiders fit as well. They have a mediocre offensive line that could use more depth and protection around Derek Carr.
Tristan Wirfs will go in the first round. There is no way a scout looks at this guy and expects to skip him on draft day. He is the guy that an NFL team looks for. He has the potential to be an anchor on an offensive line. His size and consistency alone will carry him for years. To me, he is a first round talent, where he is drafted will depend on team needs.
Tristan Wirfs is the second best tackle in this draft class. There are many teams looking to solidify their tackle spots. This almost guarantees he’ll be selected within the top-20. Teams like the Browns and Jets need to protect their young franchise quarterbacks. A guy as talented as Wirfs helps you solidify a tackle spot. His traits make him worth the high pick, no matter which side of the line he plays on.
Many consider it a coin-toss whether Thomas or Wirfs is the best offensive line prospect. I believe he is slightly under Thomas but still a franchise-linemen and potential pro-bowler whether he plays tackle or guard. Don’t expect him to fall out of the top-ten and he will likely end up in Arizona protecting Kyler Murray or in Cleveland protecting Baker Mayfield.
Wirfs is clearly more polished with run blocking. While he can hold his own at pass blocking, his stock will fall because of his troubles against the best pass rushers. He can improve on this trait, however. I fully expect him to go in the first round because, despite his flaws, he is still one of the best offensive linemen in this draft. I don’t think he goes in the top ten because of his issues with the pass rush. His skills are better suited as a Guard. Look for teams in the middle of the first round, especially teams with a run-first philosophy, like the Raiders and Cowboys, to go after Wirfs.