A pass rusher has been named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year for the past two seasons. Washington prospect Joe Tryon is hoping to extend that streak to a third year.
Tryon blossomed into a star during his sophomore season with the Huskies, registering 41 tackles and eight sacks. His production made him one of the top returning players for the 2020 season, but he ultimately decided to opt out due to concerns regarding COVID-19.
Despite opting out of the 2020 season, Tryon remains one of the most intriguing prospects in this year's draft. Not only is he an explosive athlete, he's shown great instincts on the field. Pair those traits together and you have a potential-packed edge rusher that should hear his name called fairly early in the draft.
We sat down with Joe Tryon to discuss his 2019 season at Washington, his decision to opt out, what his goals are for his rookie year, and much more.
The Spun: How’s this draft process been for you?
Joe Tryon: It’s been pretty awesome, I can’t really complain. I’ve been around a lot of great people and I had a lot of experiences that I’m grateful for. I’ve been able to focus on my body and mind as a player, so it’s been pretty awesome.
The Spun: Looking back at your decision to opt out, do you feel like that gave you an advantage in terms of your draft preparation?
JT: Most definitely. You can see it as a disadvantage, obviously not playing is a big deal. In my case, I know what I’m capable of as a player. I took that next step and became a professional early. I’ve been able to focus on my body and learn how to be a pro early. I feel like I’ve really made strides and I’m excited to get right to it. Once I get on a team, I don’t see myself having any drop-off because I know what it takes to be a pro.
The Spun: What do you think you showed on tape?
JT: I pretty much did everything you can ask me of as an edge player. I rushed the passer well, I put pressure on the quarterback, I set the edge, I played the run well, I can drop into coverage if you need me to. I’m pretty much a versatile player that fits any coordinator’s system in the league.
The Spun: Washington has you, Levi Onwuzurike, and Elijah Molden going to the NFL. Do you feel like people underrate the Huskies when it comes to talent development?
JT: Definitely, if we’re talking from a media standpoint, but if you look around the league we got top players at all positions. There are a lot of great players that came from the University of Washington, and I’m trying to continue that tradition. I can say for myself that it makes sense to see why we have that many top players in the league. I guess we’re underrated, but it really doesn’t matter to me. I know what we’re capable of and that we can come in and do the job.
The Spun: Levi was recently praised your pass-rushing skills. How would you grade your skillset right now and what are you working on the most?
JT: Out of 10 I’d give myself an eight because there’s always room for improvement. I’m always looking to get better, so I’m not going to say I’m the best. I know that I’m capable of making an impact on Day 1 in the NFL. I most definitely want to improve on my consistency as a player. That’s for sure something that a lot of people focus on. Being able to play at a high level consistently is really the goal for everyone, especially me.
The Spun: We’ve seen edge rushers win Defensive Rookie of the Year in back-to-back years. Is that your goal for next season?
JT: Most definitely. I’m always just working to make as much of an impact as I can, and if the accolades come with that, as long as we’re winning I’ll be happy with that.
The Spun: What are you hoping to show at your pro day?
JT: I’m just trying to show what I put on film. I want to show my fluidity as a player - I’m a very athletic dude and I move around well. I’m not some dude who just puts his hands in the dirt, I’m someone who can cover and be in any type of assignment on defense. I know I’m going to turn a lot of heads and I’m excited for all my dudes that’ll be at the pro day.
The Spun: Would you rather be a 4-3 defensive end or play outside linebacker?
JT: There’s no preference for me because the defense I played in at Washington had me in both roles. It really just depends on the scheme. I know that whatever team I’m on I’ll excel in whatever position they want me in.
The Spun: Are there certain pass rushers you like to watch on film?
JT: The main guy I watch on film is Chandler Jones - he’s definitely the best pass rusher in the NFL. He’s a really long dude with powerful hands. Offensive linemen have a tough time with him - they don’t ever touch his chest. This dude really just dictates the whole entire game, so I try to emulate that. I try to be the dominant force that he is.
The Spun: What would you say to someone who believes you won’t succeed because you were just a one-year starter in college?
JT: I’d say they don’t really know football. It’s not like one year is going to disappear. I believe the work that I put in after that one year surpasses any type of one-year wonder. I know I’m even better than I was back in 2019. It’s pretty much your loss and you’ll be left in the dust saying ‘Well, I was wrong.’
The Spun: Which NFL quarterback would you love to make a game-changing play against?
JT: I got to choose Russell Wilson, man. That dude is elusive, and I grew up a Seahawks fan so I’ve seen the embarrassing stuff he’s done to edge rushers. I know that when it comes to him, he’s one of the hardest ones to get down.
The Spun: You just got to be very careful with his pump fake, he gets defenders to bite on that often.
JT: Man, I don’t know what it is but that dude is like a genie. He might do mind tricks because those edge rushers jump every time [laughing].
The Spun: What is an NFL team getting in Joe Tryon?
JT: I’d say you’re getting a high-character player, on and off the field. I’m someone who’s going to impact the game and impact his community in a very positive way. I see myself as a player who will continue to grow and help out the team in any way I can.
Tryon could hear his name called as early as the first round of the NFL Draft. He's a special athlete who has all the potential to become a Pro Bowl pass rusher.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.