The Iowa football team has two of the best (if not, the best) tackles in the Big Ten, and this analytic further strengthens the case.
Slowly, but surely, NFL Draft analysts are making their way through hours and hours of films of hundreds and hundreds of pro prospects, and when they get to watch the Iowa football team, it is no longer just AJ Epenesa that gets teams excited. It’s also Tristan Wirfs and Alaric Jackson.
Iowa’s two imposing tackles (Wirfs is 6’5” and 320 pounds while Jackson is 6’7” and 320 pounds) solidify both edges for the Hawkeyes, and NFL scouts think they can solidify the edge at the next level too. More often, I am seeing Tristan Wirfs rank in the top-15 of most big boards, and I am finding Alaric Jackson squeaking his way into the first or second round.
Although they had their struggles last year (as any sophomore tackle in the Big Ten would), they showed they were the most consistent tackle tandem in the country, especially when it comes to pass-blocking, and the advanced analytics support the narrative.
According to Pro Football Focus, Alaric Jackson had the lowest pressure rated allowed out of all returning Big Ten tackles and Tristan Wirfs finished tied for fourth. While pressures don’t get nearly as much clout in the stat box as sacks, they’re just as important. Regardless of whether the quarterback goes down with the ball in his hands or with it out, pressure on the quarterback can often speed up their delivery, decrease accuracy, and possibly result in an interceptable ball, which Nate Stanley is known for.
That’s incredible, and as you can see on here, no other team has two guys in the top-five.
What’s possibly getting lost in how talented these two guys are, however, is how important their success is to the success of senior quarterback Nate Stanley who operates much better when the pocket is clean (as much quarterbacks do).
If both Wirfs and Jackson can keep up this level of performance, and improve in their run blocking, this offensive line will live up to the billing placed on them by Stick to Football’s Matt Miller as the best offensive line in the country.