The Bucs’ Very Best

August 18th, 2022

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The night of April 23, 2020 changed the fortunes of several NFL teams. For the Buccaneers, it was one enchanted evening.

That was the day Tristan Wirfs received a phone call from Jason Licht, who had just selected the Iowa tackle with the 13th overall pick. To say Wirfs fell into Tampa Bay’s lap isn’t quite accurate. The Bucs moved up one spot to get Wirfs, yielding a fourth-round choice to the 49ers.

Tristan Wirfs

San Francisco GM John Lynch could have held firm at No. 13 and drafted Wirfs, but he had his eyes locked on defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw.

Two years later, it looks like a gaffe of epic proportions.

Wirfs made the All-Pro team last year and hasn’t missed a single offensive snap in two regular seasons. A year ago, his peers selected Wirfs as the league’s 89th-best player. He’s about to crack the Top 50, possibly even the Top 25, when the list continues to roll out this weekend.

For those who say the Bucs never catch a break, the 2020 draft proved otherwise.

The Jets, Giants and Browns all had their shots at Wirfs, but chose different offensive tackles.

With Andrew Thomas, Jedrick Wills and Mekhi Becton all off the board, Licht made his move. He wasn’t going to walk away without one of the Big 4 tackles, but he’d be lying if he said he knew Wirfs would stand head and shoulder pads above the rest two years later.

Just how good is Wirfs? He’s fantastic. With all due respect to Tom Brady and Mike Evans, Wirfs might be the best player on the Buc roster.

“I think he’s done an amazing job,” Brady says of his stalwart right tackle. “He’s a great player, a good person, a great teammate and a great worker.”

The only game Wirfs has missed as a pro came in the playoff matchup against the Rams seven months ago. He couldn’t go after injuring his ankle the previous week against Philadelphia. Without Wirfs, the Bucs trailed 27-3 late in the third quarter and Brady was under siege.

Historic pick by GM Jason Licht, writes Ira Kaufman.

No Equal

The three tackles chosen before Wirfs have each struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness.

Thomas allowed 10 sacks as a rookie, hardly what the Giants expected when they selected him at No. 4. Ankle problems have slowed his development and New York’s offense has been abysmal since Thomas arrived in the Meadowlands. Wills, off the board at No. 10, has been flagged for 15 penalties in two seasons, undermined by ankle injuries and COVID.

“Last year was a struggle,” Wills said. “It wasn’t a secret.”

The Jets just announced that Becton needs kneecap surgery and will miss the entire 2022 season. He suffered a knee injury in Week 1 last year and missed the rest of the 2021 season. In 14 games as a rookie, Becton allowed four sacks and was flagged for six penalties.

What about Javon Kinlaw? Let’s just say he hasn’t made much of a splash.

He needed ACL surgery after four games last season. In 18 NFL games, he has managed 1.5 sacks and 5 QB hits. Don’t look for him on the NFL’s Top 100 list. The 49ers say he’s healthy and enjoying a solid camp, but Kinlaw has much to prove as a pro.

Buc fans don’t want to think about what would have happened had the Giants, Browns or Jets grabbed Wirfs when they had the chance. Wirfs is now a stabilizing force for an offensive line that will feature three new starters Week 1 at Dallas.

Had Licht not secured San Francisco’s pick at No. 13, another team might have worked out a deal with Lynch to move up the board and choose Wirfs. We’ll never know.

What we do know as the Bucs prepare for the 2022 season is Tristan Wirfs has emerged as the best right tackle in the game.

Some Enchanted Evening.

Ira loves that lifetime warranty on new and used vehicles!

16 Responses to “The Bucs’ Very Best”

  1. Leopold Stotch Says:

    I was in a panic at that spot. I knew we needed a tackle and then trade showed up and I was freaking out that we were gonna get hosed. Then that glorious flag showed up and I knew we were all good.

  2. tbbucs3 Says:

    “The Jets, Giants and Browns all had their shots at Wirfs, but chose different offensive tackles.”

    Sounds about right for those franchises

  3. Bucs Win Says:

    When Wirfs went down my whole row started crying.

  4. westernbuc Says:

    I thought it was a dumb trade on Licht’s part at the time. But in hindsight, he’s worth a lot more than a 4th. Happy to admit I was wrong.

  5. Bird Says:

    Commented on this the other day

    Man those teams took a big swing and a miss. One at the 4 spot. And wirfs kinda drops in our lap with a small move up

    I believe wirfs is so good he could excel at any spot on the line. So big and strong but from wrestling just knows how to make his opponent fail. Even if opponent makes good initial move , wirfs has a better counter move. He is probably already the best lineman in buc history. We will make him the highest paid right tackle in nfl history very soon

  6. Mark A Swygert Says:

    Sometimes it is better to be lucky than to be good.

  7. Brandon Says:

    No doubt we got the right player, but matching the right player with the right coaching and organization, is almost as important.

  8. PSL Bob Says:

    Brady summed it up nicely. “He’s a great player, a good person, a great teammate and a great worker.” How can you not like Wirfs? Obviously he’s a great player. But whenever he’s interviewed he always comes across as a humble, down-to-earth guy. No huge ego whatsoever. Got to root for him and pray he stays healthy.

  9. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Actually…..It’s better to be lucky and good……and that’s what Licht was with Wirfs.

  10. Señor Harry in Costa Rica Says:

    “The Jets, Giants and Browns all had their shots at Wirfs, but chose different offensive tackles.”

    The Bucs used to always be one of the teams on the WTF draft choice list. Thank you Mr. Licht

  11. Netwalker Says:

    Thanks for the update on the other three tackles. I was wondering how they were doing compared to Wirfs. Nice to have a winner of this magnitude.

  12. Trey Long Says:

    He’s just great. Period.

  13. Goatfarmer Says:

    If Wirfs isn’t injured for that Rams game, Bucs win. The Todd Bowles seizure and defensive meltdown in the last 35 seconds wouldn’t have happened.

    In 1999, Paul Gruber was out for the Rams playoff game. If he plays, Bucs win that game because they would have been able to run the ball more successfully and protect Shaun Queen better.

    In 1979, Charlie Hannah missed the Rams game along with other OL mates. Again, a healthy Hannah means Bucs win because they would have been able to run the ball better.

    It’s the Rams Playoff Offensive Line Curse.

    Time to right the ship boys. Be healthy, nurse Jensen back to health. If there’s one guy that’s gonna push himself over the maximum line it’s Jensen. Meanwhile bubble wrap Donnie and Wirfs and teach the Guards and Hainsey to run block.

  14. BucsfanFred Says:

    Part of the problem might just be our depth tackles. Wells doesn’t play very well. Fred Johnson might as well be playing with his Johnson. I don’t remember what the other camp meat tackes names were, and I do mean were, but they’re not worth looking up.
    Many of us JBFers scream for a free agent center. I’m screaming for a tackle or three.

  15. Destinjohnny Says:

    Sometimes it’s good to be lucky

  16. Lakeland Steve Says:

    Wirfs went down in practice this morning with the Titans. Bowles wouldn’t comment on the injury. Praying he’s ok.