The Buccaneers’ prodigious signing of Tom Brady emphatically stated they weren’t waiting on the long-term development of a young quarterback, but on draft night, Tampa Bay’s front office showed there was still a semblance of patience in the room. The Buccaneers traded down one pick and went the unflashy but prudent route by selecting offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs at No. 13 overall.  

I immediately adored the selection, tweeting in real-timeunbelievable get for Tampa. My OT1. Athletic freak. Super strong. Awesome balance & recovery skills. Knows how to reset his hands. Complete OT. And he’s a natural RT. Plug and play. Home run. GRADE: A+”

Not only was Wirfs my OT1, but he finished as my No. 5 overall prospect in the 2020 draft class, seven spots clear of the next offensive lineman (Andrew Thomas). Given that the Buccaneers were able to land Wirfs even after the trade back, I was compelled to dedicate an entire article on the home-run selection. 

Here’s the closing paragraph in that piece: 

It really is difficult finding a flaw in his game, and he is fresh off a historic combine performance. Not every superb athlete is automatically a great player in the NFL, but most great players are superb athletes. With the Wirfs selection, which is an absolutely perfect fit with tremendous value, the Buccaneers’ rapid roster reconstruction is complete. 

Here’s a reminder of just what type of specimen is playing right tackle for the Buccaneers this season. Below are Wirfs’ measurements and entire combine workout, along with where his performance in each drill placed him among offensive tackles at the combine over the past 21 years. 

Seriously freaky stuff. And what’s funny — before the combine, there were rumblings Wirfs was going to measure-in smaller with shorter arms than expected. There was a prevailing thought NFL teams would see his official measurements and project him to guard. 

Nope. Didn’t happen. A whopping 6-foot-4 and 320 pounds with 34-inch tentacles. And he tested like an oversized tight end. 

But enough on Wirfs as a prospect. He’s been dazzling to start his NFL career. His film through just four contests has resembled a veteran Pro Bowler returning for his fourth or fifth season in the league. The Buccaneers have put him on an island frequently, and minus a few hiccups, Wirfs has handled everything thrown his way as a pass protector. He’s paved massive lanes for the ground game too. 

I zeroed in on two colossal battles against premier edge rushers he’s endured in his first month on an NFL field — against Cameron Jordan in Week 1 and Joey Bosa last Sunday. And I was blown away by Wirfs. Jordan and Bosa have been elite pass rushers for many years because they’re high-caliber athletes and know how to win in a variety of ways. But, believe it or not, Wirfs got the best of each. I kid you not. I charted how productive Jordan and Bosa were in pure 1-on-1 situations against Wirfs. Stunts, chips, and quick screens were not counted. 

QB pressures / pass-rush snaps (%) QB pressures / pass-rush snaps (%) QB pressures / pass-rush snaps (%)

1-on-1 vs. Tristan Wirfs

3/25 (12%)

1/20 (5%)

4/45 (8.8%)

All other pass-rush snaps

19/116 (16.3%)

8/106 (7.5%)

27/222 (12.1%)

Plenty to unpack there, but basically Jordan and Bosa were both slightly less efficient in those 1-on-1 grapples with Wirfs than they’ve been in all other situations early this year. That’s an impressive feat for a young offensive tackle in the first quarter of his debut NFL season. 

And while Bosa did generate three pressures, his other 22 “losses” featured downright dominant reps from Wirfs. He wasn’t as overwhelming against Jordan, but there was really only one snap in which the Saints superstar clearly won in a hurry. During the handful of times it initially appeared Jordan won at the point of attack, Wirfs’ athletic gifts allowed him to recover and block the All-Pro before he pressured Brady. 

I spliced together some of Wirfs’ wins against Bosa on TikTok, because of course I have a TikTok and use it for NFL analysis: 

It’s a gauntlet playing tackle in today’s NFL with the amount of supremely talented edge rushers there are in the league. Wirfs will see plenty of Khalil Mack Thursday night, and the Bears stud pass rusher has registered 22 pressures on just 134 pass-rush snaps leading into this game, good for a 16.4% pressure-creation rate, currently tied for seventh among all edge rushers who’ve rushed the passer at least 75 times entering Week 5. 

We’ll soon find out if Wirfs is up for the challenge, but if his first two encounters with premier edge rushers were any indication, the rookie right tackle won’t look like a rookie against Mack on Thursday Night Football.

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