Strong start expected from Tristan Wirfs, high-powered Tampa Bay offense

The tackle is projected to be a starter on a team that includes quarterback Tom Brady.


Katina Zentz

Iowa offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs cheers during the Iowa vs. Northwestern football game at Ryan Field on Saturday, October 26, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats 20-0.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

There are players that stand out wherever they go — and Tristan Wirfs is one of them.

The Mount Vernon, Iowa, native was a starter on the offensive line for the past three seasons for the Hawkeyes. The 6-foot-5, 320-pound tackle was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Instead of blocking for quarterback Nate Stanley, Wirfs will now be blocking for Tom Brady.

As it’s the first season for Wirfs and Brady on the Buccaneers, it will be a learning experience for both, though for different reasons.

Where Wirfs currently stands

Last season, Wirfs was named to a first-team All-American by Football Writers, Walter Camp Association, and Phil Steele. He was also named the Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year in the Big Ten Conference.

Wirfs, who took snaps mostly at right tackle at Iowa, had the strength and agility to win nearly any matchup in college. His athletic ability is evident on film, and it was one of the key reasons Tampa drafted him.

That was in college. Though he hasn’t played an NFL game yet, Wirfs did make waves at the NFL Combine in February. He had 24 bench presses, as well as a broad jump of 10’1” — which tied a combine record.

In addition, he had a 36.5” vertical jump, the best for an offensive lineman at any combine, and a 40-yard dash of 4.86 seconds — the best of any offensive lineman at this year’s combine.

It’s surprising that it took until the 13th pick for Wirfs to get drafted. However, he’s expected to be the starting right tackle for the Buccaneers, according to ESPN. If that’s true, he’ll be a regular on the 13th best offensive line in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.

Wirfs will have good coaches to learn from. Head coach Bruce Arians is one of the most respected coaches in the league and a two-time winner of the AP NFL Coach of the Year Award.

Joe Gilbert, the offensive line coach, knows how to be successful with any offensive line. In 2014 with the Indianapolis Colts, he used 11 different offensive line combinations, but helped set a franchise record in offensive net yards.

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Rookie season expectations

All eyes will be on the Buccaneers in 2020. Brady is expected to carry his team deep into the playoffs, even though it’s his first season in Tampa. Arians is also his first new head coach in two decades.

With wide receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans and tight end Rob Gronkowski on the squad, the offense should be a passing machine.

Wirfs’ future with the Buccaneers

No contract has been signed yet, but as previously reported by The Daily Iowan, Wirfs is expected to receive a four-year, $16.2 million contract with a $9.2 million signing bonus.

If Wirfs stays disciplined, learns from his coaches, and avoids getting hurt, he can be a consistent All-Pro-caliber player at the next level.

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