Iowa OL Tristan Wirfs Declares for 2020 NFL Draft

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2020

Iowa offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs (74) warms ups before a game against Northwestern an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in Evanston, Ill. (AP Photo/David Banks)
David Banks/Associated Press

Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs will forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the 2020 NFL draft, he announced Tuesday on Instagram.

"These past 3 years have been the ride of a lifetime, getting to compete with my brothers and represent the state of Iowa is something I will hold with me forever," he wrote in his statement. "With that being said, after a lot of discussion with my mom and family, I have decided to forgo my senior season and declare for the 2020 NFL draft."

In his most recent big board, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller ranked Wirfs as the No. 17 player overall and No. 3 offensive tackle behind Alabama's Jedrick Wills Jr. and Georgia's Andrew Thomas.

Since Kirk Ferentz took over as head coach in 1998, the Hawkeyes have succeeded in getting their offensive tackles on the radar of NFL scouts and executives. Brandon Scherff, Riley Reiff, Bryan Bulaga and Robert Gallery were all first-round picks, and Andrew Donnal, Kyle Calloway, Marshal Yanda, Pete McMahon and Ben Sobieski were selected in later rounds.

Those who follow Iowa football were well aware of Wirfs' pedigree entering the 2019 season. The Athletic's Bruce Feldman helped his profile grow a little more when he listed Wirfs at No. 1 in his annual ranking of the biggest physical "Freaks" in college football:

"The 6-5, 320-pound Wirfs smashed Brandon Scherff's (Freaks Class of 2014) school record in the power clean by pumping out four reps at 450 pounds. And keep in mind Wirfs only turned 20 in January. As colleague Scott Dochterman pointed out in this excellent piece on Wirfs' Herculean effort, Scherff was entering his fifth year in the Iowa program. Two seasons ago, in 2017, Wirfs became the first true freshman to start at tackle in Kirk Ferentz's Iowa tenure.

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"The former state champion wrestler also vertical jumped 35 inches this offseason, which would be the second-highest jump by an O-lineman at the NFL Scouting Combine in the past seven years. On top of that, earlier this week, Wirfs set a personal record in the broad jump, going 9-5 feet."

Those numbers listed by Feldman provide enough evidence of why Wirfs is widely considered one of the best tackles in the 2020 draft class.

The junior boasts a ton of raw strength while also possessing the kind of agility that will help him move laterally to handle speedy edge-rushers off the snap.

Iowa's offensive stats don't necessarily paint a flattering picture of the line's performance. The Hawkeyes averaged only 3.9 yards per carry and allowed 23 sacks. According to Football Outsiders, the team was also 74th in standard line yards, 92nd in stuff rate and 39th in sack rate.

Following a 17-12 defeat to Penn State, Wirfs attempted to shoulder the blame even though the Hawkeyes had a 356-294 edge in total yards:

Those comments underscored Wirfs' work ethic and desire to improve, and they probably didn't go unnoticed by NFL personnel.

Wirfs' decision to move on to the NFL comes as little surprise since he'd have little to gain draft-wise from an extra year at Iowa. Having appeared in 35 games, he leaves plenty of tape with which to evaluate his skill set, and he's likely to be a star at the NFL Scouting Combine.