Buccaneers: Tristan Wirfs vs. 2020 tackles isn’t close

Leonard Fournette, Tristan Wirfs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Leonard Fournette, Tristan Wirfs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The Buccaneers hit the jackpot on Tristan Wirfs.

We are officially in the “dead zone” for the NFL. The coming weeks will be filled with little more than conjecture and injury news, and in this phase, there is no better time to look at the Buccaneers and their relative status in the NFL. Let’s start with Tristan Wirfs.

Wirfs could go down as one of the best draft picks for the Buccaneers in years. The decade before Wirfs’ arrival was horrid by almost all accounts, and finding a steal such as him in a class with so many variables was able to change the future of this franchise in a great way.

There is no other way to put it: the Bucs lucked their way into Tristan Wirfs. In a class filled with four fantastic offensive tackles, Tampa simply got the last one remaining. Fortunately, Wirfs ended up being the best by a mile.

Everyone saw the impressive 40-yard dash and overall athletic freakishness, but these traits alone aren’t enough to propel a player to the top of a group as elite as this one was.

In that class, Jedrick Wills and Andrew Thomas had excellent tape. Guys that could go out and do what they did against SEC talent every week should have been sure things at the next level. Wills was great in his first year, but Thomas, who went first, faced a rocky start.

On the other end, a guy like Mekhi Becton had a massive frame, good athleticism for his size, and looked like a project piece that could pan out to be the best down the road. No matter how you looked at it, all of the players made a case to go at each spot, but luck was on Tampa’s side.

After a year to evaluate these players, Wirfs has emerged as the overwhelming favorite amongst his cohorts and is even starting to emerge as one of the best tackles in the NFL. None of the other three competitors from the 2020 class are even close to this level, and Wirfs also had the added bonus of doing this on a team that won the Super Bowl.

In their rookie seasons, Thomas gave up ten sacks, Becton gave up seven, and Wills surrendered four. Thomas’ shortcomings came out of nowhere, Becton and Wills were about where most people expected rookie tackles to be, and Tristan Wirfs left his competition in the dust.

Giving up just one sack over the course of a season is extremely impressive, especially considering the talent that Wirfs faced during his first year in the league. Regardless of who he was lined up across from, Wirfs was poised, confident, and ready to use his athleticism to help keep Tom Brady’s jersey clean.

This strategy worked exceptionally well, and now the Bucs will go into the 2021 season with one of the best offensive lines in the NFL with a rising superstar as an anchor.

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There is always learning to do, especially for a guy like Tristan Wirfs in his sophomore season, but the Buccaneers absolutely made the right choice in the 2020 NFL Draft, and the team will reap the benefits of this decision for a long time to come.

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