The offensive line may not be the direction the Denver Broncos go, but it would be very difficult to pass up on Tristan Wirfs with the 15th pick.
There are plenty of reasons the Denver Broncos drafting offensive line with the 15th overall pick does not make sense and plenty as to why it does. In my opinion, it would be very hard to dismiss the talent of Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs with the 15th selection in the NFL Draft.
Garett Bolles finished strong in 2019 and on a positive note, but Denver is still waiting to pick up the fifth-year option for Bolles. Plus, Ja’Wuan James was inactive for the majority of the 2019 season. Right guard Ronald Leary is not expected back because of all the injuries he has sustained his career.
I bring up Leary because Wirfs could potentially be the guy who takes his place. Wirfs is gifted and athletic that moves very well for a guy his size capable of being a guard. While at the University of Iowa, Wirfs has played both left and right tackle. This is where the Bolles/James dynamic comes in. If the Broncos let Leary walk, then Wirfs can slide into the right guard spot to play there. In 2021, if Denver moves from either Bolles or James they have their franchise left tackle or right tackle.
This versatility is something Denver has always prided itself on when evaluating options on the offensive line and more importantly the tackle position. Players like Donald Stephenson and Menelik Watson come to mind regarding swing tackles. But also, the Denver Broncos drafted Max Garcia from Florida back in 2015.
Garcia was a guard who played multiple positions for the Gators. Connor McGovern is another example of the Broncos valuing versatility in their offensive linemen. Lastly is Dalton Risner. Risner showed strength in solidifying the left guard position in 2019. However, with Kansas State Risner played tackle, guard and center. This means Denver has shown a strong interest in versatility before.
Wirfs is one of the most gifted athletes to play tackle in a few years. There have not been many players capable of making a successful switch from left tackle to right tackle midseason in college and being successful at it. Wirfs started out as a right tackle but due to an injury at the left tackle spot, he slid over to left tackle and some feel he did as good there as his original position of right tackle. This is a true sign of a player with gifted mobility to achieve this. It is no wonder Wirfs could be high on the Denver Broncos radar if he slips to 15.
The other of course is the most obvious. Wirfs played in the Big Ten and the last two years Denver has drafted played from the University of Iowa. Josey Jewell and Noah Fant both are former Hawkeyes and current Denver Broncos.
As a matter of fact, the entire tight end group is from the Big Ten minus Austin Fort. DaeSean Hamilton is from Penn State, another Big Ten school. There is plenty of history with Denver and looking at that conference. It would not shock any of us if they did it again in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Last of the most obvious is the work of Mike Munchak. Munchak is well regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in the game. Munchak did incredible dropping the sack totals of the Steelers in a short amount of time.
Even though it was only five games with a young quarterback, Munchak saw significant improvement in this area down the stretch in 2019 as well. The importance of bringing this up is to keep your quarterback happy. Two of the most quarterback-friendly positions are offensive line and wide receiver in the draft. With the talent he has, it should not surprise anyone if Munchak is pounding the table for Wirfs at 15.
The fluidity with which Wirfs moves almost looks effortless and Denver would be wise to look at a player of his skill set. He is a plug and play player at guard and depending on the futures of James and Bolles, Wirfs is a potential replacement for either of them if something were to happen.
While the wide receiver position seems to be the direction it is headed, building through the trenches is never a bad idea. If Wirfs is there at 15, the Denver Broncos cannot whiff on Wirfs.