A couple of weeks ago, it seemed like a perfect fit between Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs and the New York Jets. In fact, at one point last month, Wirfs was the most popular pick of mock drafts to the Jets at No. 11.
Now, it appears that Wirfs could be the top offensive tackle to come off the draft board, his stock raised considerably by an impressive showing at the NFL Combine.
The Jets made no secret of their desire to upgrade the offensive line this offseason with general manager Joe Douglas very active in his first full offseason with the organization. Douglas signed a total of five offensive linemen since free agency started, including four from outside the organization. Now with all that activity, the Jets still need to find one more offensive tackle.
And the line of thinking here is that in the first round, they can get that keystone, franchise left tackle. Wirfs, if he somehow became a Jet, would be a building block for the rest of the unit.
SI Big Board: Wirfs check in at No. 8.
The lowdown on Wirfs: Six weeks ago, there was the sentiment that Wirfs might project better in the NFL at guard but all that changed with his showing in the Combine. Simply, that narrative doesn’t exist anymore. For a big player (6-foot-5, 320 pounds), Wirfs moves well (4.85 in the 40, 4.68 in the 20-yard shuttle) and has good hips.
His footwork is impressive. But the workout in shorts doesn’t tell the whole story.
Wirfs is a mauler on film and plays to the whistle. His hand placement and punches are excellent. And while he can be a bit stiff at times, Wirfs plays with intensity and discipline. He plants well and remains light on his feet. At Iowa, he was rarely overpowered against the pass rush.
There is no doubt that he is an offensive tackle in the NFL.
He has good arm length (34 inches) and good size hands as well. The fluidity of his movement is impressive. Also stands out is that he is disciplined and doesn’t accrue a lot of penalties.
Where he fits with the Jets: Unless there is a tremendous run on quarterbacks in the first 10 picks and one offensive tackle vaults ahead of Wirfs (such as Alabama’s Jedrick Wills), it doesn’t seem likely that the Iowa tackle will be there for the Jets. And moving up to select Wirfs doesn’t make sense as the Jets need their draft collateral as much as possible to plug multiple holes still existing on the roster (wide receiver, cornerback, edge rusher). Wirfs is tremendous, but this draft has several good offensive tackles that will be available who can step in immediately and be solid for the Jets.
They needn’t mortgage their depth just to address this one issue, no matter how good Wirfs can be.
At the end of the day if the Jets do stay put, it would be a minor miracle for the Jets to be in a position to draft Wirfs. If he is there at No. 11, they are likely jumping on the pick.
Wirfs is a decade-long starter at left tackle, giving the Jets some much-needed consistency at the position.