TAMPA BAY – There’s no denying the Buccaneers offensive line went through a major transformation when the team drafted Tristan Wirfs back in 2020.
The Buccaneers’ front five has been one of the league’s best units ever since Jason Licht decided to trade up and take Wirfs with the 13th overall pick. Now, of course, Wirfs isn’t responsible for all of the success, but one can certainly say he’s a major, major reason why the unit has been so good.
All one needs to do is point at his first-team All-Pro nod in 2021. Wirfs followed up an excellent rookie season with an even better sophomore season, and was handsomely rewarded, as a result.
The All-Pro selection, along with Wirfs’ overall body of work through his first two years is what led The Athletic‘s Nick Baumgardner to label Wirfs as a “hit” from the 2020 NFL Draft.
Below is what Baumgardner wrote:
“No one who saw Wirfs work out ahead of the draft is surprised that all of his special athletic gifts have shown up through two years in Tampa. Wirfs is a 6-foot-4, 320-pound freight train with twitch. Big men aren’t supposed to be able to move like this, and nearly all of it, so far, has translated to the field for Wirfs. His flexibility and hand quickness just add to his tool box on the edge, as Wirfs has shown an ability to adjust and recover versus speed and power moves in pass protection. He’s a complete athlete with power throughout his frame, and that allows him to readjust and re-anchor mid-rep, even if a defender has an early advantage on him off the snap.
… Through two seasons, Wirfs has shown foundational tackle potential.”
Wirfs is easily a top-5 tackle in the NFL
And not just among right tackles. That header includes left tackles, too.
There are only one or two other players that possess the size, strength, and athleticism that Wirfs possesses. He’s an all-around freak (in a good way) when it comes to what he’s able to do in regard to his blocking abilities.
Per Pro Football Focus, Wirfs allowed the third-fewest total pressures (14) that included the sixth-fewest quarterback hits (2), as well, in 2021. He also led all tackles with at least 550 pass blocking snaps in pass blocking efficiency (99.0).
It was pretty evident how badly the Buccaneers offense missed Wirfs in the playoff loss to the Rams earlier in the year. Tom Brady was sacked three times in that game and was harassed all day long.
Wirfs is a special talent and like Baumgardner notes, should be a Buccaneer for a very, very long time.
You can check out Baumgardner’s entire column, here.
Featured image via Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports