2021 NFL draft: Washington's Joe Tryon is raw but has fascinating upside

Leading up to the 2021 NFL draft, which starts April 29, Yahoo Sports will count down our top 100 overall prospects. We’ll count them down in groups of five for Nos. 100-51, followed by more in-depth reports on our top 50 players, with help from our scouting assistant, Liam Blutman. We reserve the right to make changes to players’ grades and evaluations based on injury updates, pro-day workouts or late-arriving information from NFL teams.

Other prospect rankings: Nos. 100-96 | 95-91 | 90-86 | 85-81 | 80-76 | 75-71 | 70-66 | 65-61 | 60-56 | 55-51 | 50. OT Liam Eichenberg | 49. WR Terrace Marshall Jr. | 48. LB Chazz Surratt | 47. EDGE Joe Tryon | 46. OT-OG Alex Leatherwood | 45. CB Asante Samuel Jr. | 44. DL Levi Onwuzurike | 43. LB Jabril Cox | 42. DT Daviyon Nixon | 41. EDGE Ronnie Perkins | 40. LB Nick Bolton | 39. CB Ifeatu Melifonwu | 38. WR Elijah Moore | 37. OT Jalen Mayfield | 36. EDGE Carlos Basham Jr. | 35. CB Elijah Molden | 34. RB Travis Etienne | 33. WR Kadarius Toney | 32. EDGE Jayson Oweh | 31. LB Zaven Collins | 30. DT Christian Barmore | 29. QB Mac Jones | 28. CB Caleb Farley | 27. RB Javonte Williams | 26. C-OG Landon Dickerson | 25. S Trevon Moehrig | 24. CB Greg Newsome II | 23. WR Rashod Bateman | 22. EDGE Greg Rousseau | 21. OT Christian Darrisaw | 20. RB Najee Harris | 19. LB-S Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah | 18. EDGE Jaelan Phillips | 17. OT Teven Jenkins | 16. EDGE Kwity Paye | 15. CB Jaycee Horn | 14. OT-OG Rashawn Slater | 13. OG-OT Alijah Vera-Tucker | 12. WR DeVonta Smith | 11. EDGE Azeez Ojulari | 10. CB Patrick Surtain II | 9. OT Penei Sewell | 8. QB Zach Wilson | 7. LB Micah Parsons | 6. QB Trey Lance | 5. WR Jaylen Waddle | 4. QB Justin Fields | 3. WR Ja'Marr Chase | 2. TE Kyle Pitts | 1. QB Trevor Lawrence

Here are how we use our prospect grades for the 2021 NFL draft. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)
Here are how we use our prospect grades for the 2021 NFL draft. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)

47. Washington EDGE Joe Tryon

6-foot-5, 260 pounds

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.89 — potential starter

TL;DR scouting report: Raw but highly talented edge rusher who has the athletic traits to be an offense wrecker in time if he's developed correctly

Games watched: Eastern Washington (2019), Cal (2019), Arizona (2019), BYU (2019),

The skinny: A 3-star Rivals recruit, Tryon redshirted in 2017 and in 2018, he made 20 tackles (two for losses), one sack and one pass defended in 12 games (two starts). Earning a starting role in 2019, Tyron was named second-team All-Pac-12 with 41 tackles (12.5 for losses), eight sacks and one pass defended. He opted out of the 2020 season and declared early for the 2021 NFL draft.

Upside: Checks nearly all the physical boxes you could want — length, strength, mass and athletic traits. Carries his 260 pounds extremely well, moves laterally with no issues and was just starting to show how explosive he could be prior to opting out of last season. Has the thickness and bend to handle duty on the edge and the athleticism to drop into coverage.

Was deployed in a variety of ways as a starter — rushed from both sides of the line and from two- and three-point stances. Stood up as an inside linebacker and even kicked down to tackle a few snaps. Walked out to the slot in coverage on occasion and covers pretty well in short zones. Also handled special-teams duty on field goal, field-goal block and both return units.

Washington's Joe Tryon is a raw but talented edge player in need of refinement. (Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Washington's Joe Tryon is a raw but talented edge player in need of refinement. (Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Good production in his one year starting. Really came on down the stretch in 2019 — three two-sack games in his final five outings. Confidence grew with more impactful plays. Asked to handle a lot, including covering in space and playing off the ball as a run defender.

Highly aggressive attacking the ball — pit viper mentality and relentless effort. Possesses great power and burst off the line to threaten blockers with shock at the point of attack. Gains quick momentum in his rush and is very tough to get off his path to the ball. Can maul tight ends who are asked to try to block him one on one. Imagine what he can do once he’s mastered some pass-rush savvy.

Defends lateral runs pretty well. Can also make backside plays — flattens down the line quickly and closes well. High-upside prospect who could be a tremendous project for a DL/LB coach. Uses his hands fairly naturally and has all the tools to be great.

Downside: Only 851 defensive snaps to evaluate — essentially a one-year starter. There were times when you could see his wheels spinning out there on the field — still grasping the mental minutiae of the game. Development was stalled with his opt-out just after takeoff. Pro-day workout will carry outsized weight in his evaluation.

Crude rush technique — not much finesse to his game. Opts to take the power route most of the time, and it becomes predictable for blockers. Comes flying into plays like an SUV skidding on an icy road.

Needs to develop better pass-rush plans — it’s often bull rush or bust. Can be stalled vs. tackles with great anchor strength. Earned some second-effort sacks in college that won’t get home in the NFL. Can take too wide an arc and be ridden out of the pocket. Very few noticeable countermoves in his rush. Can’t yet convert speed to power like you’d expect.

Will lose edge contain with poor leverage and poor angles. Doesn’t disengage cleanly and will open his chest to blockers. Hand work must be refined. Chip blocks can stall him in his tracks.

Coverage limitations — can’t carry a tight end down the seam or guard a back on a wheel route. Best when duties are more streamlined. Had trouble tackling in space — watch his rep against Cal where Tryon had the angle to take down the scrambling quarterback but barely laid a glove on him:

Tryon is best attacking the quarterback and had some missed tackles in space such as this.
Tryon is best attacking the quarterback and had some missed tackles in space such as this.

Tended to feast against lesser opponents. Scouts wanted to see a little more nastiness in his game — less bark and more bite. Still a traits-based projection now — lacks polish, refinement and development.

Best-suited destination: Teams that draft for two and three years from now and are not driven by immediate needs have to be fascinated with Tryon’s template. He’s got everything you need to make it in the NFL athletically and size-wise, but he remains a work in progress whose Year 1 contributions might be fairly limited.

Down the road, however, Tryon could be a game wrecker. Will the team that drafts him have the requisite patience and teaching ability to coax out all that oozing potential?

Did you know: Tryon’s high school coach originally wanted to make him a left tackle, figuring his height and mass would make him a natural there at 3A Hazel High just outside Seattle. But once the coaches saw Tryon run, that hypothetical was trashed quickly.

Instead, they used him as a tight end — and he responded with an 11-TD season — and played him nearly every snap on defense as well.

Player comp: They’re not clones, but Tryon could end up taking the Trey Hendrickson route to success: two or three years of development followed by a breakout season in 2020 that led to a massive payday for Hendrickson this offseason with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Expected draft range: Round 3

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