Broncos Draft Profile: Tristan Wirfs could solve long-standing tackle problem

Tristan WIrfs. Credit: Jeffrey Becker, USA TODAY Sports.
Tristan WIrfs. Credit: Jeffrey Becker, USA TODAY Sports.

Tristan Wirfs is an athletic freak who also happens to play tackle. And with the Denver Broncos still trying to decide if their former first-round pick Garett Bolles is a solution on the left side, the orange and blue could be in love with Wirfs.

The massive man — now 6’5″ and 320 pounds — was raised in Mount Vernon, Iowa where he was not only a stud on the football field, but in throwing the discus as well as winning a state championship as a wrestler. Both Iowa and Iowa State recruited him in his prep years, with Wirfs choosing Iowa.

There, he played for three years, starting as a true freshman and becoming one of the most recognized offensive lineman in college football. Remember, the Big Ten is all about smash-mouth football and relies on strong lines; Wirfs was the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year and All-Big Ten as a junior in 2019.

Now, he’s looking to become an All-Pro at the NFL level.

Positives

Wirfs absolutely dominated at the NFL Scouting Combine, out-shining every other lineman. Which makes it seem unlikely he’ll be around at No. 15 when Denver picks, but, you never know.

He was No. 1 in the 40-yard dash, running a 4.85 unofficially. He was also No. 1 in the vertical jump, with a superb 36.5″ cleared off the ground. Keep going down the line and he was the best long-jumper (121.0″) and fifth in the three-cone drill; he’s a freak of nature, no doubt about it.

All of that athleticism helps Wirfs move to the second level with ease for blocks, and it also helps him get off the snap to engage defenders with a strong pop at the point of attack. He’s got fluid hips and moves well for a man of his size. Scouts are high on his hands and ability to punch quickly and in limited space.

Negatives

While Wirfs is the most athletic lineman in this draft, and he does have a bit of a nasty streak, that nastiness isn’t consistent enough. And maybe his biggest negative is his lack of control in the run-blocking game. He does move well, but doesn’t keep his body under control at the point of attack. Along those same lines, Wirfs needs to work on sustaining blocks for longer.

Fit with the Broncos: Denver is in the final year of Garett Bolles rookie contract, and the second year of Ja’Wuan James’ four-year deal. Bolles is in a “put up or shut up” situation and, while Wirfs played mostly on the right side, he started games on the left side, too.

NFL comp: Terron Armstead, who had a somewhat slow start to his career but made the Pro Bowl the last two seasons.

Round/pick expectation: Picks 5-20.

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