The 2021 NFL Draft was always bound to be a different type of draft for the Buccaneers. By winning Super Bowl LV in February, Tampa Bay secured the No. 32 pick in the first round, meaning it would be a long night—especially for a team that is used to picking in the top 15 every year. The final pick of the first round finally came in just after midnight and with that selection, the Bucs added Washington EDGE Joe Tryon to their championship defense. Here are three things to know about the team’s 2021 first-round pick.
Tryon’s rise has been an impressively quick one
A lot of first-round picks are used to being big names. Many grow up as the stars of their youth and high school football teams before shining at powerhouse college programs on their way to the NFL. Joe Tryon’s story is a bit different. He grew up in Renton, Washington, which he described to The Draft Network as a town where “there’s not much going on.” He played his prep football at Hazen High School and put together an impressive career with the Highlanders, but he still wasn’t all that highly recruited heading into college.
Rated as a three-star prospect by all of the major recruiting outlets, Tryon didn’t have an extensive number of offers. However, the schools that he did have scholarship offers from were pretty impressive, as Washington, Washington State and Oregon made up three of the four on his list. He chose to attend Washington and headed to the Huskies as the 773rd overall recruit in the country. On Thursday night—well, Friday morning—he became a first-round pick in the NFL Draft.
Tryon was an intriguing sleeper for many throughout the pre-draft process, especially after a 2019 season that saw him post 12.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks and 28 quarterback hurries to earn Second-Team All-Pac 12 honors. His tape was especially impressive and he seemed primed to have a massive 2020 season as he was named to the Preseason Watch Lists for the Butkus Award and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy in addition to being named a Preseason All-American by college football analyst Phil Steele. However, with concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, Tryon made the decision to opt out of the 2020 season and declare for the draft. Over the last few months, the former Husky standout kept gaining steam as a potential first-round pick.
It’s not hard to see why Tryon jumped from the 773rd overall recruit in 2017 to a first-round selection in 2021. He wows with his size (6-foot-5, 259 pounds), speed (4.64-second 40-yard dash) and athleticism (35-inch vertical) and while he may need some time to develop, playing behind players like Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul will allow him to learn from some of the best.
He was a three-sport athlete in high school
It’s not uncommon for NFL prospects to have played football and basketball in high school. Some even add track and field to the mix. But Tryon? He played football (serving as a defensive end and a tight end), basketball and baseball. Doing all three at Hazen High, the new Buccaneer edge rusher was able to develop as an athlete in a number of different ways. In an interview with The Draft Network, he explained how he was able to use both basketball and baseball to help him become a better football player:
“Basketball teaches you lateral movements. It teaches you how to move side-to-side. You have to stay in front of somebody as a defender and mirror their movements. That definitely translates to football, especially in pass coverage. Basketball helped with my lateral movements and basic agility. Baseball is tough to explain. It’s one of those sports that you have to play in order to get it. When you’re hitting, it teaches you to engage your core and move your hips. Baseball requires you to move your body in ways that aren’t really taught in any other sport. There’s a lot of good hand-eye coordination involved as well. It taught me how to focus on the little things.”
Learning such different ways to move and use his body through two other sports has translated to his versatile pass-rushing arsenal. In the same interview, he noted that he takes pride in his craft and possessing an arsenal that is gameplan-specific. The raw athleticism and skill that he has is sure to serve him well from day one in Tampa, especially as he steps into a rotational role. He should be able to further work on that craft and get up to speed gradually before the Bucs will ever need him to play starter snaps.
The ideal size and athleticism to excel as a pass-rusher at the next level.— NFL (@NFL) April 11, 2021
The breakdown on @UW_Football OLB Joe Tryon. ️ (via @chad_reuter)
: 2021 #NFLDraft -- April 29 - May 1 on NFLN/ESPN/ABC pic.twitter.com/sigJpX6cGl
Tryon becomes the second Washington defender drafted by Tampa Bay in the last four years
Tryon is a big, strong and athletic defender that comes to the Buccaneers in the first round by way of the University of Washington. Sound familiar? Well, it should, considering he is the second former Husky in the last four years to fit that profile and go on to be drafted by the team in the first round. He joins 2018 No. 12 overall pick Vita Vea on the Tampa Bay defense. The two actually crossed paths at Washington, though they never played together. Vea’s final season with the Huskies came in 2017, the year that Tryon redshirted.
Tryon and Vea aren’t the only Washington products on the Bucs’ roster, either. Those two are joined by Benning Potoa’e, a 2020 undrafted free agent, and Jaydon Mickens. The Athletic’s Greg Auman tweeted early Friday morning that Tryon said he has already heard from Potoa’e, and it’s not hard to imagine he’ll be hearing from Vea—as well as some other new teammates—soon as well.
By selecting Tryon, Tampa Bay addressed what was perhaps its biggest “need” heading into the draft. With Barrett, Pierre-Paul, Anthony Nelson and now Tryon on the roster, Todd Bowles has some solid depth off the edge of his Super Bowl-winning defense. And with Pierre-Paul now 32 years old, the Bucs may very well have just added Barrett’s long-term running mate with their first selection of the weekend.
I can’t get over how good that front 7 for the bucs is ... it starts up front for real !!!— Joe Tryon-Shoyinka (@joe_tryon) February 9, 2021
You can find new Buccaneer edge rusher Joe Tryon on Twitter @joe_tryon. Be sure to take some time to congratulate him and welcome him to Tampa Bay! And don’t forget to wish him a happy birthday, as he turns 22 on Friday!