Tristan Wirfs slipped out of the top 10 of the NFL Draft, but still became the 10th first-round pick of the Kirk Ferentz era.
The mammoth offensive tackle from Iowa was chosen No. 13 overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night. Yes, that means the 21-year-old will be responsible for protecting future six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, who at 42 is twice his age.
It was thought that Wirfs might be the first offensive lineman off the board Thursday night, but that honor went to Georgia's Andrew Thomas, who went No. 4 overall to the New York Giants. Then Jedrick Wills Jr. of Alabama went No. 10 to the Cleveland Browns and Louisville's Mekhi Becton went No. 11 to the New York Jets. The Bucs traded up one spot with the San Francisco 49ers to nab Wirfs.
Wirfs was hoping to join Robert Gallery (who was the No. 2 overall pick, chosen by the Oakland Raiders in 2004) and Brandon Scherff (Washington Redskins', No. 5 overall in 2015) as top-10 offensive linemen chosen during the Kirk Ferentz era. Both of those players were mainstay left tackles and won the Outland Trophy while at Iowa; Wirfs, on the other hand, played mostly right tackle at Iowa, and that's the role he's expected to fill in Tampa.
Of Wirfs’ 33 starts in three years at Iowa, 29 came at right tackle. That total included his first seven career starts in 2017, when he became the first true freshman of the 21-year Ferentz era to start a game at tackle — a premier pass-protection position.
Wirfs’ three-year Iowa career was short but dynamic. He was named the Big Ten Conference’s offensive lineman of the year as a junior and was a first-team all-American by the Football Writers Association of America. It became a no-brainer that the 6-foot-5, 320-pounder would turn pro early at a premier NFL position.
On Thursday, Wirfs' decision officially paid off. According to spotrac.com, the No. 13 pick is in line for a four-year deal worth $16.3 million, including a signing bonus of more than $9 million.