It was a spectacular rookie year for Bucs OT Tristan Wirfs, who was the only Buc not to miss a single offensive snap all season. Wirfs brilliance even earned him some Rookie of the Year noise on social media, after he surrendered just one sack in 20 games. Somehow Wirfs was even better in the playoffs, allowing just two pressures.
Now, ESPN’s ongoing survey of more than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players to rank the top 10 players in the NFL at each position has recognized Wirfs as well. The Iowa product slid into the offensive tackle rankings at No. 8, over established veterans like Tyron Smith and Ryan Ramczyk. Despite a coveted ranking for a one-year player, this quote from an NFC executive had me scratching my head.
Bucs RT Tristan Wirfs – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“He’s just a really good lineman,” an NFC exec said. “He’s not necessarily an [unusual] athlete with his feet, but he’s a very good athlete overall and doesn’t give up much. Plus, he plays with Tom Brady, who gets the ball out really fast. Not sure if the talent level is elite, but he proved early that he will be productive for a long time.”
So, he’s not a great athlete with his feet, but he is a great athlete overall, but the talent level isn’t elite? Sometimes, NFL guys just say stuff. Like Michael Scott, they start a sentence and just hope they find it along the way.
People are welcome to different opinions of what Wirfs will be in the NFL, but to say he isn’t an elite talent? He could have been much worse as a rookie and he would still be an elite talent. Wirfs is 6-5, 320 and had one of the most elite workouts of all-time for a tackle. Standing up Cam Jordan and Joey Bosa on an island in your first four games doesn’t just happen. Wirfs is an absurd talent. To suggest otherwise indicates this executive hasn’t been watching him.
Maybe he’s not the only one. Somehow, the Jets’ Mekhi Becton ranked sixth on the list, two spots above Wirfs. The article admits Wirfs had the better rookie season, but that NFL personnel are projecting Becton to be even better eventually. Becton is awesome, but I think they are underselling what Wirfs’ ceiling can be. We’ll see.
ESPN’s survey continues on Sunday, as they rank the top ten interior offensive linemen in the NFL. Bucs fans will be looking to see if Ali Marpet and Ryan Jensen are represented. On Thursday and Friday, CB Carlton Davis and S Antoine Winfield Jr. just missed the top tens at their respective positions.
Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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