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Here’s the real reason you think Joe Tryon is a great draft pick

John Romano | The stats and measurables are important, but there’s something else at play with Tampa Bay’s first-round draft pick.
Published Apr. 30
Updated Apr. 30

TAMPA — You love this pick. I can already hear sonnets being sung in the breeze.

You love Joe Tryon because he is long and athletic, which are particularly attractive buzzwords for pass rushers. You love Joe Tryon because he’s supposedly just scratched the surface of his potential, and that’s an exciting concept for any NFL draft pick. You love Joe Tryon because none of the talking heads on ESPN had unkind things to say.

But here’s the real reason you love Tampa Bay’s first-round draft pick: Because the Bucs are on a roll.

That may not make any sense, but it colors all of our opinions. Nearly every player the Bucs have gambled on in recent drafts has turned into a royal flush.

Tristan Wirfs and Antoine Winfield Jr.? Big-time dividends. Devin White, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Jamel Dean? Excellent class. Vita Vea, Ronald Jones, Carlton Davis, Alex Cappa and Jordan Whitehead? Five key Super Bowl parts in one beautiful draft.

So how could you not love Joe Tryon, too?

Washington linebacker Joe Tryon was drafted by the Bucs at No. 32 Thursday night (or, really, Friday morning).
Washington linebacker Joe Tryon was drafted by the Bucs at No. 32 Thursday night (or, really, Friday morning). [ STEPHEN BRASHEAR | Associated Press ]

That’s part of the recency bias of NFL drafts. A few years ago, you were showing up at Raymond James Stadium with torches and pitch forks while looking for anyone resembling Jason Licht. Now, the Bucs Super Bowl-winning GM is the man of the hour.

So if he says Tryon is an excellent value at No. 32, then who are you to argue?

“I think you guys are really going to like him,” Licht said. “He’s a very intelligent guy and very passionate about the sport.”

Does that mean Tryon will have an impact in 2021? Nope. Does that mean he will eventually replace Jason Pierre-Paul as that standup edge rusher? Nope. But it does mean that Tampa Bay saw enough hints of potential greatness that made Tryon worth grabbing ahead of a few college players with, perhaps, more impressive resumes.

It’s instructive to note that the Bucs apparently did not put a huge priority on trading up even a handful of spots to make sure they got Tryon. That either means they weren’t too worried about other teams taking him, or they felt No. 32 was a perfect value.

“We had some opportunities to trade back but we didn’t want to if Joe was sitting on the board,” Licht said. “It came down to that pick right in front of us. If he had been taken, we may have entertained some of those offers (to move back). But we didn’t have to.

“We had a list of players we came up with that if these guys were sitting on the board — even if it’s the last guy left — we weren’t going to move. We turned down opportunities to move back because we wanted Joe.”

When you look at this pick from a 10,000-foot level, Tryon is exactly the type of player the Bucs should have been focused on. He plays a premium position, and a position that could potentially be vacant as Pierre-Paul moves deeper into his 30s.

He is also something of a project. A player with untapped potential, who seems to overperform at each new level. Tryon was not a big-time recruit at Hazen High just outside of Seattle and only had serious inquiries from Washington State and Eastern Washington as a junior. After a big senior season, he caught the attention of Washington coaches and ended up switching his commitment.

Tryon redshirted one season, played sparingly in the next, but blossomed toward the end of his sophomore season. Still, he wasn’t racking up awards or headlines and he wasn’t a favorite in early mock drafts. But his stock continued to climb through workouts and interviews in the past few months, and now he looks like the kind of sleeper pick that fans might one day crow about.

That doesn’t guarantee anything today. In fact, Bucs history is littered with first-round pass-rusher types (Adrian Clayborn, Gaines Adams, Regan Uphsaw, Eric Curry, Keith McCants and Broderick Thomas) who floundered more than flourished.

But, for today, Tryon sounds like exactly what you would want for a championship roster with every starter returning.

He seems sharp, he seems athletic, he seems like he has room to grow as a player.

What’s not to love?

John Romano can be reached at jromano@tampabay.com. Follow @romano_tbtimes.

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