As the draft got further into the first round, the board was falling in the Bucs’ favor. This gave Tampa Bay and general manager Jason Licht multiple options at different positions with pick number 32. Washington outside linebacker Joe Tryon, however, was the player he had his eye on all along.
With so many good prospects still available, Licht was elated to see Tryon still around. We later learned that Licht even turned down trade offers in order to stay at their spot to pick him.
Licht discussed with the media his decision to pick Tryon, along with what he likes about his game. Here is a full transcript of Licht’s press conference following the conclusion of the first round in the 2021 NFL Draft.
On what he liked about Tryon even with missing last year, and how he’ll fit on defense
“I think he’s going to be a nice piece to have. Any player we picked this year, as we’ve said, is going to be, I guess you can call a luxury. But in his particular case, it’s nice to stockpile on edge rushers. We have two pretty good ones there at outside linebacker and we like Anthony [Nelson], Cam Gill shows a lot of promise, but you can’t have too many of those guys.
“He’s big, he’s athletic, plays very hard. The fact that he didn’t play this year – he opted out, tried to get back in but it was too late. We felt like he’s a player that if he had played this year and had similar production or better that his value really would have gone up next year, so we feel like we got great value there, we’re going to say that about any pick we have. We’re actually very excited about it.”
On if it was difficult waiting as guys went off the board
“I don’t want to say difficult. We knew it was going to happen, we had pretty good sense of who was going to come off and who was going to be there. He was the top guy that we had when we picked. He was over guys that had been picked, he was going to be one of our situations where if we walked away and we got Joe Tryon, we were going to be elated, so we are.”
On what separated Tryon from other players still on the board
“We took him, we obviously thought he was a better fit for us. Finding the big, six-foot-five, 265 pound edge rusher that runs 4.63, not that we put everything into times and measurement, but had solid production two years ago, then we feel like [he] has a chance to be even better than he was – is too hard to pass on. Everybody’s got their opinions on players based on mocks, but we base ours based on our tape and evaluations.”
On not having the pressure to start because of Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul, and developing with them
“Those guys, including our entire locker room, but those guys in particular since we’re talking about that position, are awesome. They’re going to do whatever they can to make this team better. If that means taking him under their wing to show them the ropes, I’m sure they will. They’re in no danger of losing their starting job, I can tell you that. But like I said, there’s injuries, there’s a lot of things that happen throughout the course of a season, so it’s nice to stockpile especially at that position getting after the quarterback.”
On what Licht likes about Tryon’s personality
“Really enjoyed getting to know him over zooms throughout the last weeks, months, whatever it’s been. We had great reports coming out before we met with him on his personality and the fact that he’s a great teammate. He wants to give 100 percent effort at all times. He’s dedicating himself to football and to be the best that he can. It really comes out in the interviews with him. I think you guys are really going to like him. He’s an intelligent guy and very passionate about the sport.”
On his speed
“First of all, he’s a very fluid athlete. He’s got very fluid feet, he’s got good lateral quickness. He plays with tremendous effort, which raises his game speed in my opinion because he never gives up. We just thought his workouts really jumped off the tape, just the way he can move his feet and move laterally and play with balance in his drops, things like that. He’s going to be a very versatile guy for us. He’s got the luxury of not having to be out there right away and be a starter right away or be a major contributor right away. We’ll take our time with him, when he’s ready, he’ll be out there playing a role.”
On if Licht was tempted to move up or back in the draft
“It was very quiet on the trade front for us. We joked around all day that my phone didn’t ring at all for a couple days, which normally positions that we’ve been in the past, you’d have a little bit more movement or people trying to move. We had some opportunities to trade back but we didn’t want to if Joe was sitting on the board.
“It came down to that pick right in front of us, if he had been taken then we would’ve maybe entertained some of those offers, but we didn’t have to. Once again, we had a list of players that we came up with if these guys were sitting on the board, one of these guys 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.”
On Licht selecting a Washington player for the second time in four years
“We’ve had some Washington. That doesn’t have anything to do with the pick, he could have been playing at University of Tennessee Chattanooga for all I care, we still would’ve picked him. They did cross over, we talked about that in the zooms with Joe and he obviously spoke very highly of Vita [Vea]. To play in that program, that’s a very good program that they have there historically. Players usually come out of there, they understand the grind, they understand the process. Most of them really turn out to be pretty good players.”
On how does their board reset with so many good players still on the board
“We always do that, though, with every draft. We’ll gather up tomorrow, we’ll have an entire day to talk it through. We’re making a huge jump from the bottom of the round all the way to the top. Usually it would take a little too much to do that, I don’t want to wipe away our entire draft. We still have several players kind of pegged in each round that we think can make our football team and help us out. I’m not ruling out trying to move up a little bit, but it would have to be the right price and it’d have to be the right player.”
On if he had to speak to Washington’s coaches more since Tryon opted out last season
“We talked to a lot of people there. We felt very comfortable with what we had and the information that we had. You couldn’t find anything negative about Joe as a person. He’s another quality person to add to this locker room that’s going to add and not take away. We were very comfortable with all of the legwork that our scouts did and our coaches. They do a phenomenal job and my hats’ off to them this year, especially with the restrictions that we had. They went the extra mile. I feel very confident about our group of scouts and what they do.