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2020 NFL Draft profile: Iowa OT Tristan Wirfs

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If he falls to 15, Elway should run to the podium.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 27 Holiday Bowl - USC v Iowa
The Broncos’ line would look awesome with Wirfs on board.
Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There’s little way around it: Garett Bolles and Ja’Wuan James make the Broncos’ tackle situation weird. Both are expected to start in 2020 and could feasibly remain under contract into 2021. There are significant questions about both.

Bolles is a 2017 first-round pick who showed some signs of improvement over the last part of 2019, but still led the NFL in penalty flags. Shortly after the draft Elway will need to decide upon a fifth year option for him which would drastically increase his cap charge.

Ja’Wuan James is a big ticket free agent signing from 2019 who played 65 total snaps dealing with serious knee issues. All reports since the season ended have been that he should be good to go once the new season begins, but if he can’t play up to his contract the Broncos do have an ability to move on in 2021.

All the questions mean there could be a rather significant long term need for a tackle, even if he may be a right guard in the meantime. No other player in this draft offers the potential to fill both the short and long term concerns as well as Iowa’s freaky Tristan Wirfs.

Wirfs is both a high floor and high ceiling prospect. If he’s there at 15, the Broncos ought to strike.

Scouting Report:

  • Elite athletic ability, has all of the tools.
  • Solid competitive toughness, flashes a real mean streak and finishers mentality.
  • Elite play strength, hard to believe he can still get stronger as he hits the league.
  • Good mental processing, pedigree and improvement over time has arrow pointing up.
  • Good hands and you can see his pedigree shine through here. Well coached.
  • Will get push in a gap scheme, strong at the point of attack.
  • Has all of the requisite traits to be a dominant force on pulls in the league.
  • Will shine on zone blocks because of his feet.
  • Solid pass blocker, composed on the edge and maintains his base and balance.
  • Good to very good anchor, he’ll be able to hold up to bulls.
  • Needs to improve at second level.
  • Speed rushers with counter or speed to power could give issues.
  • Played majority right tackle for Hawkeyes, filled in at left tackle in 2019.
  • Concerns over length and play in true drop back passing game led some to believe he’s a better guard at the next level.
Wirfs is an exciting prospect, but he’s not perfect.

What I’ve heard/read:

Tristan Wirfs OT Iowa - Draft Player Profile | The Draft Network - Kyle Crabbs

Tristan Wirfs should be considered a plug and play starter at the next level. It’s understanding why some will want to move him inside to play at OG — his vertical pass sets aren’t where he’s best and playing him inside limits that exposure. But I’m ready to give him a crack at RT first — he’s got tremendous ability in space, a strong anchor, fluid feet and explosive pads. He’s scheme diverse and his candidacy to kick inside will only provide greater value to protect against busting.

Tristan Wirfs OT Iowa - Draft Player Profile | The Draft Network - Joe Marino

Wirfs became the first Iowa freshman to start at offensive tackle since Kirk Ferentz took over the program in 1999. Coming in at No. 1 in Bruce Feldman’s annual freak list, Wirfs rewrote the weight room records for the Hawkeyes and is one of the strongest overall prospects in the class. Oh, by the way he’s an excellent football player and prospect. While he has some technical items to address, Wirfs has the skill set of an impact starter, most likely at right tackle where he started at Iowa over the last 3.5 years. With that said, his best position in the NFL could come at guard but there is little reason to think he won’t be just as dominant outside at tackle. Wirfs is a powerful man with impressive mobility that should make him an asset in the run game and out in space. Wirfs has the upside to become one of the better offensive linemen in the game by Year Three.

Tristan Wirfs OT Iowa - Draft Player Profile | The Draft Network

Tristan Wirfs should be considered a plug and play starter at the next level. It’s understanding why some will want to move him inside to play at OG — his vertical pass sets aren’t where he’s best and playing him inside limits that exposure. But I’m ready to give him a crack at RT first — he’s got tremendous ability in space, a strong anchor, fluid feet and explosive pads. He’s scheme diverse and his candidacy to kick inside will only provide greater value to protect against busting.

PFF Draft Guide - Mike Renner

Wirfs may not have the length, but he has all the other physical tools to hold up at tackle in the NFL. With how much he’s progressed since his freshman year, I’d bet on him finding a way to get the job done on the outside.

Why he fits

Wirfs offers the Broncos maximum flexibility at the position while profiling as a long term building block for Munchak to coach up. If drafted and Garett Bolles and Ja’Wuan James prove themselves capable of sticking around, Wirfs could slide in and grow into an exceptional guard. If Elway decides to move on from one or both after 2020, Wirfs could potentially move from guard to tackle and grow into a top tier player under Munchak. His scheme and positional flexibility combined with his upside makes him a rare high ceiling, high floor prospect.

Final Thoughts

Tristan Wirfs is my current OT1 in this class. I don’t expect him to slide to the Broncos at 15, but if he does, there are very few players I’d take over him.