Joe Tryon: 2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview Series

A program that consistently churns out NFL talent, the Washington Huskies have had 13 defenders drafted in the last five years. The 2021 class features another impressive handful of impact players on the defensive side of the ball.

One of their most impressive prospects is EDGE Joe Tryon. Listed at 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, Tryon is one of the most complete players in this class. His ability to get after the quarterback, drop in coverage, and set the edge in the run game should set him up for immediate success at the next level.

I had an opportunity to discuss Tryon’s journey with him. From how Washington helped prepare him for the next level to his advanced pass rush arsenal, we had a long conversation that paints a picture of why he’s one of the best EDGE defenders in this class.

JM: You grew up in Renton, Washington. What was life like growing up?

JT: There’s not much going on in Renton. It’s a normal town. We have a mall (laughs). It’s not a big city, but we have everything you can ask for. The weather is pretty bad most of the year. It’s always raining. Renton isn’t too bad. I’d be out of bounds if I complained.

JM: You went to Hazen, which is the local high school. You stayed busy. You played baseball and basketball in addition to football. What was high school like, and how did you balance playing three different sports?

JT: It was fun. I’ve always been an active kid. I always played at least three sports growing up. It was nothing new to me. I love staying busy. I played sports with my friends. We hung out, both on and off the field. I had a lot of fun growing up.

JM: How did playing basketball and baseball make you a better football player?

JT: 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.

JM: Those are great points. You graduate from Hazen and you move just down the road to the University of Washington. You didn’t go very far. You must have cherished the opportunity to stay close to home and play in front of family and friends.

JT: Playing at Washington was great. It was a 25-minute drive from where I grew up. I was able to play in front of my whole family. My entire hometown showed support. It was a great experience. We won a lot of football games. We had a bunch of good players. It was the perfect system for me. I enjoyed my time there.

JM: 2018 was a learning year for you. You took a huge step forward in 2019 and recorded eight sacks. What changed for you in 2019?

JT: I had a bigger opportunity to play. I had to earn my role in 2018. I was a backup. I had to earn the trust of the coaching staff. I showed them that I wanted to play in big-time situations. I only started like three games in 2018. 

I pretty much earned a starting role for the 2019 season. I just took off after that.

JM: Washington has had so many great defensive prospects over the last few years. Guys like Budda Baker, Vita Vea, and others come to mind. You’re one of several Huskies that will get drafted in April. What do you think it is about Washington that allows the program to develop defensive talent at such an efficient rate?

JT: As a player that they’ve helped develop, I have to give that credit to the coaching staff. The culture of the team is fantastic. We’re always competing and trying to get better. The standard has been set by the older players that have come through those halls. You said it, there are so many great players that came before us. We’re expected to play at a high level. 

We don’t wanna disappoint anybody. The standards are incredibly high. You’re not gonna play if you don’t know what you’re doing. You have to put in extra work to get on the field because every single player is working hard. You’re surrounded by a bunch of talent and everybody is vying for playing time. You have to find a way to stand out. Once you do that, you’ve proven your worth. The whole team comes together. We grind together. We all mesh well. 

We have the best coaching staff in the nation. They set us up for success. They put us in great positions. They know what they’re doing. They know how to line us up. It’s a combination of the players and the culture that the coaching staff has worked so hard to implement.

JM: That’s a terrific answer. To build on that, you played under coach Jimmy Lake. He was your defensive coordinator in 2019. I think coach Lake is one of the better coaches in all of college football. How did coach Lake help elevate your game?

JT: Coach Lake is a competitive coach when it comes to just about anything. He brings it every single day. He’s the same person in the film room that he is both on and off the field. You know what you’re getting with coach Lake. He wants us to prepare to play our best.

When you have somebody like coach Lake in your ear, you don’t have a choice but to compete. Coach Lake brings such a fiery edge to the team. I really love what he brings to the table. I thoroughly enjoyed being coached by him.

JM: He asked you to do a lot.  You dropped in coverage, you’re a great run defender. We know you can get after the QB. What can you tell me about the role you played on defense?

JT: I did a lot of things for the defense. I spent the majority of my time on the boundary as an outside linebacker. I was responsible for setting the edge on defense. I covered tight ends. I covered running backs in the flat. I got after the quarterback of course (laughs). 

They used me as a weapon for the defense. That’s the same role I see myself playing at the next level. Whether I’m a defensive end or outside linebacker, I can do multiple things for the defense. I see myself like a piece of clay. I can do anything an NFL team wants me to do.

JM: The tape tells the story. What can you tell me about your pass-rush arsenal?

JT: It’s always growing. I take pride in my arsenal. I’m always working on my craft. It’s one of my biggest assets as a player. My arsenal is very gameplan-specific. 

I like to set dudes up with two-hand swipes. That’s my go-to move. I have great speed off the edge. I include a lot of power rushes in my game. My arsenal is a culmination of all those things. Whatever an offensive lineman wants to do with me, I have a counter for it. There’s no move that I can’t counter with. 

JM: When I turn the tape on, your first step explosion jumps off the screen.

JT: I’m a natural athlete. I have a lot of God-given abilities. I’ve put my gifts to good use. I’ve put in a lot of work. Developing a good get-off has always been a huge focus for me. I’ve put a ton of emphasis on that. That’s how I approach my training. I spent years at Washington working on that. I had to stand out any way that I could to get on the field. Having a great first step was one of those ways.

JM: You play the game with great effort. I’ve combed through a lot of tape and I can’t recall ever seeing you let up on a play. You don’t take plays off.

JT: That’s just how I was raised. I grew up in a single-parent household. My mom had two kids as a single mom. She really couldn’t give up. She never let up. She had to go to work every day. She had to provide for her kids. I do it for her. I give her all the credit when it comes to my work ethic both on and off the field. 

When I’m on the field, I’m playing for my family. I’m playing for everyone that helped me along the way. She made a ton of sacrifices. She’s the reason I am who I am today. I can’t let up. I don’t have a reason to not go 100% on every single play.

JM: I love your outlook. Any NFL team is going to be incredibly lucky to have you. What are three traits in your opinion that a successful pass rusher must possess?

JT: You have to play the game with a ton of effort first and foremost. You have to be willing to fail. I think that’s a big one. You can’t be afraid to fail. You’re not gonna win every rep. You better strap up and get ready to go again. You have to adapt to different types of offensive linemen. They all have different preferences in how they like to set up. You’re not gonna get the same set over and over again. You have to be able to take what they give you. You also have to be really gritty. 

JM: Those are three great points. Washington has you listed at 6-foot-5 and 262 pounds. How accurate are those measurements?

JT: Those are accurate. I just got on the scale (laughs). It says 260 pounds. 

JM: We’re getting live measurements here at The Draft Network. The Pro Day is on March 30th. I imagine you plan on being a full participant.

JT: I have some tricks up my sleeve. I have some numbers I’m ready to put up. I know a lot of people expect me to run a certain number or whatever, but I know I’m gonna surprise a lot of people.

JM: We love to hear that. If you could choose the quarterback to be the victim of your first career sack, who would it be and why?

JT: I gotta say Russell Wilson (laughs). I grew up in the Washington area. I played for Washington. Russell Wilson, he’s so elusive. To get him on the ground, that would be big. I grew up a Seahawks fan. That would be crazy.

JM: You grew up a Seahawks fan which means you grew up a Russell Wilson fan, and you still want to sack the man?!

JT: I’m gonna help him up after I do it! (laughs). I wanna sack him though. I’m not gonna lay into him or anything like that. I just need to get my hands on him. I’ve seen how he’s embarrassed so many edge rushers throughout the years. I can’t let that happen.

JM: That’s perfect (laughs). We’re going to end things on that note. I’ve really appreciated your time today. This conversation has painted a picture of why you’re one of the best players in this draft class. In closing, when a team spends an extremely early pick on Joe Tryon, what kind of guy are they getting?

JT: They’re getting a dude that hasn’t even reached his full potential yet. I’m gonna put in a lot of work. I’m gonna maximize my talents and effort for the team. You can use me in any role.

Written By:

Justin Melo

Writer, Interviewer

Justin Melo is an NFL draft analyst that cut his teeth at The Draft Breakdown and USA Today's Draft Wire. He specializes in interviewing prospects, but also produces big boards, mock drafts, and scouting reports. He also covers the Tennessee Titans nationally for Broadway Sports Media and SB Nation.

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