From the moment Bucs OLB Joe Tryon was drafted, it was easy to envision a clear path to playing time for the rookie. The Bucs depth at the outside linebacker position was lacking in 2020, and Anthony Nelson offered little as a pass rusher. These weaknesses led to Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul playing a massive percentage of snaps, with Pierre-Paul finishing the season playing almost 90 percent of the Bucs defensive reps.
Tryon’s presence will at least somewhat alleviate the situation in 2021. How much he’s able to contribute is yet to be determined, as the Washington product has yet to get on the field through a couple weeks of the Bucs offseason program. Tryon is recovering from a knee scope after suffering a minor injury while working out before the draft. His practice debut is much anticipated, and not just by fans either.
“Well, he definitely passes the eye test,” outside linebacker coach Larry Foote said. “He’s got all the height, weight, measurements. Just watching him on film, the guy is 6’5, he can bend, he can move. He’s got a great motor, plays with high energy and just his DNA jumps off the tape. Loved the way he plays and he’s going to fit in with what we’re trying to build here [with] his mentality. He should have no problem fitting in. Just looking at his size, you can do a lot with him. He’s agile, so Todd Bowles is in the kitchen right now cooking up some stuff for him.”
Nelson played 30 percent of the Bucs’ defensive snaps last year, but recorded just a single sack, the lone tally of his career. Tryon figures to get at least as much opportunity on defense as Nelson did, especially if he’s able to get on the field by mandatory mini-camp. Unlike many first rounders, Tryon will need to be a special teams mainstay for the Bucs this season.
“You love everything about Joe [Tryon] – great athlete, smart, can run, [has] size, physical,” special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong said. “You love everything about [Tryon]. He’s a really sharp kid. I think that he could fit in punt, punt return, kickoff coverage, field goal block, etc. Obviously as you look at his tape at the University of Washington, he has played a ton of different roles on defense out there, so obviously he is a sharp kid and can do it. I think he could do a hell of a job.”
On paper, there is no reason Tryon couldn’t shine on special teams. He can run and tackle, and he already plays the game like a bull in a china shop. But we need to remember Tryon hasn’t been in a game setting since 2019. Almost two years has passed since Tryon has played at game speed, so bumps in the road should be expected. It’ll take him awhile to master the defensive side of things, let alone absorb special teams assignments and techniques.
Still, in a year where Bucs coaches know what to expect from the majority of the roster, the excitement of the unknown with Tryon highlights the offseason. With the rookie set to return to the field soon, all eyes will be on his play this offseason. Tryon is the Buc with the best chance to add something to the team from a year ago. A potential upgrade on a team with no real holes could be another boost to Tampa Bay’s chances of repeating.
Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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