On Friday, Joe Tryon will turn 22 years old.
And when it comes to birthday presents, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the rush.
A 6-foot-5, 259-pound pass-rusher from Renton, the former UW standout was selected by the Bucs on Thursday with the 32nd and final pick in the first round of the NFL draft.
And in an Instagram live story immediately after the selection, Tryon kept it simple:
“Y’all getting the best edge in the draft,” he said.
In fact, there were six edge rushers taken ahead of Tryon — Tulsa outside linebacker Zaven Collins (16th to Arizona), Miami defensive end Jaelan Phillips (18th to Miami), Michigan defensive end Kwity Paye (21st to Indianapolis), Houston defensive end Payton Turner (28th to New Orleans), Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau (30th to Buffalo) and Penn State outside linebacker Jayson Oweh (31st to Baltimore).
Regardless, Tryon is joining former UW defensive tackle (and fellow first-round pick) Vita Vea with the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Bucs.
“The kid’s got talent,” ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said after the selection. “In 2019 he could get to the quarterback. Now against the run, he struggled. I think for Tampa Bay, that pass-rush ability he showed in 2019 got their attention. He got blown off the ball at times. He needs to use his hands a lot better. He’s got the ability.
“For Tampa Bay, they see the talent. He showed flashes of brilliance. He just needs to be coached up.”
Three of Tryon’s teammates — defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike, nickelback Elijah Molden and cornerback Keith Taylor — could realistically follow their fellow Husky off the board in the second or third round Friday.
In his lone season as a starter in Seattle, Tryon earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors in 2019 — compiling a team-high 12.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks. He finished with 61 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks in 25 career games.
Tryon also opted out of the 2020 season, though he added last month that “watching my teammates play, it wasn’t a lot of fun. I missed being out on the field. I wish we could have had a normal season. But with what the circumstances were, I made the decision I had to make and ran with it.”
Now, he’s running right to Tampa Bay.
Where the Bucs looking to maximize the long edge rusher’s elite athletic traits.
“First of all, he’s a very fluid athlete,” Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht said. “He’s got very good feet. He’s got good lateral quickness. He plays with tremendous effort, which raises his game speed in my opinion, because he never gives up. We just thought that his workouts really jumped off the tape — just the way he can move, and move laterally, and play with balance in his drops and things like that. He’s going to be a very versatile guy for us.
“He’s got the luxury of not having to be out there right away or be a starter right away or be a major contributor right away. We’ll take our time with him. And when he’s ready, he’ll be out there playing a role.”
Of course, Tryon has already come a long way since signing with Washington as a skinny three-star pass-rusher out of Hazen High School in 2017. At the time, his only offers came from UW, Oregon, Washington State and Eastern Washington.
Four years later, the word’s out.
Tryon’s versatility is valuable.
But not as much as the belief that his best is yet to come.
“In the scheme I played in college, I was doing a lot of things,” Tryon said last month, after running the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds and adding a 35-inch vertical jump at his pro day. “I had a lot of responsibilities. Obviously I was getting after the quarterback a lot. But playing the run, setting the edge, doing anything they asked me, dropping into coverage, man with a tight end, man with a running back … my versatility is all over the place. I feel like I can excel in any position. I don’t have to be just an edge rusher.
“I don’t think I’m better than anyone. I’m me. So I’m just competing with myself every day, trying to be the best version of me.”
He’s also trying to be, as he said, the best edge in the draft.
“Just being around greatness, it really motivates me,” Tryon said in a video tweeted by the team. “So I just can’t wait to get in that locker room, soak it all in and get started. We’ve got games to win.”
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