We live in an era of sports media where competition is king. Within this realm, discussion and debate could be considered the weapons with which we compete. Social media serves as the arena in which the battle is fought. The competitors can be anyone with an opinion, as the modern sports landscape is as public, entertaining, and inclusive to fans as it's ever been.
Rankings, tiers and categories are constantly utilized to engage sports fans in discussions based on the teams, players, and various debates they are most interested in consuming, or participating in.
Bucs fans have found themselves, like most other fanbases, making their most passionate arguments when they feel like their team, or a player on their team, has been disrespected or overlooked—most often by someone else's list, or ranking.
Which is why this article by Pro Football Focus ranking the top offensive tackles in the NFL must feel like a breath of fresh air for Bucs fans. Not because it's necessarily 100% correct, but because it's a tough one to complain about.
It's one where Tampa Bay Buccaneers star right tackle, Tristan Wirfs, is getting the respect and recognition he deserves.
According to the author of the article, Ben Linsey, Tristan Wirfs is the third best offensive tackle in the game.
Within the "elite" tier in which Wirfs' name can be found, he is slated just behind Trent Williams and David Bakhtiari, and ahead of household names like Ryan Ramzcyk, Lane Johnson, Terron Armstead and Tyron Smith
All of those players are franchise tackles, with each having earned their elite status based on consistent, and highly efficient production over many seasons in the league. So when compared to Wirfs, each of them have a distinct advantage in one key category; Experience.
At only 23 years of age, the fact that Wirfs is even sniffing the top tier of NFL offensive tackles, let alone listed in the top-3, is a true testament to just how special of a player he is.
Wirfs being recognized as one of the best at his position, while playing at the highest level of competition in the world, despite being just 23 years of age, is quite the achievement.
The fact that just a couple of years ago, he wasn't even one of the first three offensive tackles selected in his own draft class (2020), makes his ascension to stardom that much more gratifying. Not just for him, but for the entire Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization, as well as their fans.
Los Angeles Chargers' second-year offensive tackle, Rashawn Slater, and Detroit Lions' second-year tackle, Penei Sewell, are the only other players on the list who can rival the youth of Wirfs. Both of whom are located further down on the list.
Below is the ranking of Top-10 offensive tackles, presented in the same order as they are listed by Ben Linsey in his article for PFF, but I have included the current age of each player for some additional context.
Top 10 Offensive Tackles (Years of Age)
1. Trent Williams (33)
2. David Bakhtiari (30)
3. Tristan Wirfs (23)
4. Ryan Ramczyk (28)
5. Lane Johnson (32)
6. Terron Armstead: (30)
7. Tyron Smith: (31)
8. Ronnie Stanley: (28)
9. Rashawn Slater: (23)
10. Taylor Moton: (27)
For the record, Bucs' left tackle, Donovan Smith, was ranked as the 24th best offensive tackle in the NFL, where he was listed in "Tier 7: Good Starters".
Anyone who has had the pleasure of watching Tristan Wirfs play week in and week out over the course of his first two seasons in the NFL doesn't need a PFF ranking to tell them how elite he is. They already know. The same goes for his teammates, coaches, and opponents.
But that doesn't mean it isn't nice to see the rest of the world beginning to take notice.
If you want to see Collin Haalboom's exclusive post-draft interview with Thor Nystrom of NBC Sports Edge on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft class, check out the latest episode of the Bucs Banter Podcast.