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Bucs trade up one spot to draft Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs

Last-minute deal lands one of the top four elite offensive linemen available in the NFL draft.
Tristan Wirfs dominated at the NFL Combine, ranking first among all offensive linemen in the 40-yard dash (4.85 seconds), vertical jump (36.5 inches) and broad jump (121 inches).
Tristan Wirfs dominated at the NFL Combine, ranking first among all offensive linemen in the 40-yard dash (4.85 seconds), vertical jump (36.5 inches) and broad jump (121 inches). [ JUSTIN HAYWORTH | AP ]
Published Apr. 24, 2020|Updated Apr. 24, 2020

TAMPA — In building their draft board, the Bucs’ main focus was supporting Tom Brady to ensure their blockbuster offseason acquisition of the greatest quarterback of all time will make them a contender.

Their top draft priorities — offensive tackles, running back and wide receiver — revolved around protecting the six-time Super Bowl champion and adding to an already dangerous stable of offensive weapons.

Related: Florida Gators’ CJ Henderson picked by Jaguars

But going into the draft’s first day Thursday, the major focus was on providing Brady with an anchor at right offensive tackle. This year’s class included four elite tackles, but no guarantee any would still be available when the Bucs made their first-round pick at No. 14.

Like many other teams, the Bucs were looking to trade up to better their chances of getting their pick of the top offensive linemen.

Ultimately, they let the picks ahead of them shake out — then traded up one pick with the San Francisco 49ers to get to No. 13 overall — and selected Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs, a talented and athletic offensive tackle who was projected by some to be the top lineman off the board.

Wirfs, a 6-foot-5, 320-pounder, dominated at the NFL Combine, ranking first among all offensive linemen in the 40-yard dash (4.85 seconds), vertical jump (36.5 inches) and broad jump (121 inches).

“My best attribute, I don’t know,” Wirfs said at the combine. “I think I’m pretty powerful. I think I can move guys off the line of scrimmage.”

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Wirfs wasn’t just an athletic wonder. His speed translates to the field, and he uses it well, taking advantage of fine footwork to gain leverage and push defenders back. He’s played at both tackle spots and has his most experience on the right side. Combine that with a powerful punch, and he was considered by many to be the most well-rounded offensive lineman available.

He was the first true freshman offensive lineman to start at Iowa under longtime coach Kirk Ferentz.

Related: In virtual NFL draft, Roger Goodell stills hears boos nationwide

In the trade, the Bucs sent their fourth-round pick to the 49ers and the 14th overall selection to move one spot up to No. 13. The Bucs also received a seventh-rounder from San Francisco.

The Bucs entered the week with two fourth-round picks, but traded their fourth-round compensation pick to the Patriots in their deal to acquire Rob Gronkowski. The Bucs also got a seventh-rounder in that trade.

Related: Bengals select LSU quarterback Joe Burrow No. 1 overall

The Bucs waited and watched the first round develop as the offensive tackles started to come off the board: Georgia’s Andrew Thomas went to the Giants at No. 4, Alabama’s Jedrick Wills went to the Browns at No. 10 and Louisville’s Mekhi Becton went to the Jets at No. 11.

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After the Raiders took Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs III, the Bucs traded up one spot to take Wirfs at No. 13.

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.

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