The Jets need an offensive lineman. This 2020 Draft presents a lot of first-round talent that have made themselves available for the pickings.
Tristan Wirfs is one of the top tackle prospects in this years draft class. An expected top-15 draft pick, and with the Jets in desperate need to build a productive offensive line, seeing Wirfs in the green and white might very well be a possibility. So what do the fans need to know about him?
Tristan Wirfs is huge. At the Combine, Wirfs measured in at 6’5” and 320 pounds. For comparison, this is on par with Pro Bowl Tackle Kelechi Osemele. That same 320 pound tackle proceeded to run a 4.85 40-yard dash. His arm length recorded 34 inches, which is on the higher end of average. He also broad jumped 121 inches, and had a vertical of 36.5 inches. From his measurements alone, team GM’s and fans are looking at a large, explosive player with a huge upside in based solely on pure athleticism.
Wirf’s is an absolute wall of a person. Considering the less-than-adequate play of the Jets offensive line last year (to put it nicely), having such a large individual would protect Sam Darnold in the pocket, and help open up lanes for Le’Veon Bell. On top of potentially coming in as one of the bigger offensive lineman for the Jets, Wirf’s athleticism has been a great aide to him.
He’s demonstrated above-average technique in college before playing a snap in the NFL, and his ability to run down hill at his 4.85 speed turns him into a lumbering shield for the run game, or the incessant number of screens the offense called this past season. He could come in and be an instant starter for the Jets at either tackle position, opposite Kelvin Beachum. His success would be a welcome sight for Jets fans after watching Chuma Edoga, Darnold’s old teammate at USC and a former 3rd round pick get beaten like a drum week in and week out.
Ultimately, Jets fans can be looking at a physically imposing, strong, consistent tackle with a huge ceiling of potential.
There are two critiques on Wirfs. First are his feet. While his use of his hands is quality, he’s had a habit in pass protection of keeping his feet too close together on his initial step back. This leaves him off balance, or exposed for a more experienced pass rusher to take advantage of him. In essence, instead of keeping a strong, solid base, he almost shuffles like a defensive back. However, this is something that can easily be addressed in camp.
The other concern is his occasional lack of physicality. For someone of his size, he seldom puts defensive players in the dirt. For someone who wants to make self-proclaimed “oh crap” moments in the League, part of that is putting defenders in the turf. Take Indianapolis’ Quenton Nelson for example. He’s a hard-nosed, angry offensive lineman hell-bent on burying someone in the turf on any given play. There’s not that same tenacity with Wirfs. However, his outspoken willingness to want to become one of those players is a mentality this Jets offense needs a lot more of.
Role With the Jets
Wirf’s can be an instant starter to what Joe Douglas has built for the Jets. He’s been quietly reloading an inexperienced, injured offensive line with healthy veterans who play their position very well. It seems like a return to the new millennium when the New York Jets were powered by a smash-mouth, dirty, gritty running game.
Despite the league starting to turn to more spread offenses and air raid schemes, successful NFL teams establish run games. The Tennessee Titans upset two AFC powerhouses with a dominate run game. The Ravens can contribute their success to the one-two punch of Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram. The 49ers sustained their playoff run with a 37-20 win where Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo through 8 total passes.
Few teams can sustainably win games year after year with a passing air attack. Wirf’s addition to this offensive line can only benefit the team and open up the possibilities for the offense. He’s a young, talented player who can do a lot for the Jets organization, and it wouldn’t be upsetting to hear his named called at pick 11.