How Tristan Wirfs Fits With the Cleveland Browns

The 2020 NFL Draft kicks off in less than a week, and the Cleveland Browns, who own the 10th overall pick, are in search of a left tackle. This year’s offensive tackle class is one of the best in recent memory, but there are multiple teams picking ahead of Cleveland that are also in the tackle market. He may not be on the board when the Browns pick, but Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs is an excellent fit for what the team is looking to do scheme-wise.

Tristan Wirfs Is a Great Fit With the Cleveland Browns

Since Joe Thomas was injured halfway through the 2017 campaign and subsequently retired following the season, the Browns have been unable to fill the massive void at left tackle. Spencer Drango, Desmond Harrison, Greg Robinson, and Kendall Lamm have all started there since, and only Lamm is currently on an NFL roster. The position absolutely must be addressed on the 23rd.

Wirfs played right tackle at Iowa, but did take a decent amount of snaps on the left side due to injury. The coaching staff didn’t place Wirfs a right tackle because that was the only spot he could play, or even because that was necessarily his best spot. The team determined that Alaric Jackson, the Hawkeyes’ starting left tackle, could play only on the left side, and wanted their five best linemen on the field, so Wirfs started at right tackle. When Wirfs did have to fill in at left tackle, he looked just as, if not more comfortable than he did on the right side.

There is no guarantee that Wirfs will be able to transition to left tackle smoothly, but he certainly has the athleticism to do it. At the NFL Combine in March, he ran a 4.85 40-yard dash, which ranked third all-time among o-linemen. His 121″ broad jump tied the all-time record, and his 36.5″ vertical set a new record. He is a legendary athlete for the position, and his explosiveness translated to his on-field performance.

Wirfs improved greatly over his college career, and had a dominant junior season, earning an overall grade of over 90 from Pro Football Focus. PFF also had this to say about Wirfs’ zone run prowess:

“…few (lineman) have the sample size and movement skills that Wirfs does. He’s been on the field for 276 outside zone runs over the past two seasons — third-most of any Power-5 offensive tackle. On those runs, he’s earned a 90.2 grade.”

That’s pretty impressive to say the least, and given that new head coach Kevin Stefanski‘s offense is built around the outside zone, Wirfs could very well be the Browns preferred tackle in this class. He has the explosiveness and raw strength to move any defensive lineman, and has a nasty streak that will bull rush defenders into the sideline, if they aren’t body-slammed into the turf first.

Tristan Wirfs is not a perfect prospect by any means. He tends to open his chest too early in pass protection, and while his 34″ arms are longer than the typical 33″ minimum for a tackle, his film does show him struggling to control longer players.

But Wirfs’ technical issues can be refined, and there are plenty of tackles with shorter arms than Wirfs who had successful careers. He could very well be gone by pick 10, but if he’s there, the Browns would do well to have him protecting Baker Mayfield‘s blindside.

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