Defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike turns up in the first round of the NFL mock drafts more often than his former University of Washington teammates because of his explosive quickness. Elijah Molden is a legacy pick, the son of a former first-rounder, like his old man a cornerback.
So what sets Joe Tryon apart from his fellow Huskies?
The 6-foot-5, 259-pound outside linebacker from Renton, Washington, has secured the highest first-round slot of any of them.
Two days before the actual NFL draft, Tryon can be found listed at pick No. 23 on Chris Simms' Yahoo! Sports mock draft, going to the New York Jets, a team once made famous by now grainy images of quarterback Joe Namath waving his finger to symbolize it was No. 1.
Wonder if Namath, who was the 12th overall NFL pick to the Los Angeles Rams in 1965, will loan Tryon his fur coat? Or his old phone book?
Tryon, far more of a straight arrow than Broadway Joe, rates as low as 58th in the draft order, which would send him to the Baltimore Ravens, as determined by Yardbarker.
Yet his Yahoo! Sports selection has him two draft picks higher than Onwuzurike's best projection, also by Yahoo! Sports, and seven selections better than Molden's highest predicted position offered up by Fox Sports.
Which is all a bit ironic because Onwuzurike has proclaimed he's the best DT in the draft and deserves to a first-rounder, and Molden likely wouldn't mind matching his father Alex as a No. 1 guy.
At his Husky Pro Day outing, the edge rusher said he honestly didn't care where he's taken on Thursday.
“I really don't mind where I'm drafted,” Tryon said last month. “It's an honor to be in this position in the first place. What I really care about is landing on a good team that's going to use me to my best advantage. So it's not about how high I go. It's really the best place for me. I don't care if I'm in the first round or not.”
Whoever gets him will obtain a high-ceiling prospect who is admired for his length and his aggressiveness but has drawn a little concern from the scouts for opting out of his final Husky season.
Tryon hasn't played in an organized football game for 16 months, so the tape on him is pretty much limited to the 2019 season in which he came up with 41 tackles, including 12.5 for lost yards, among them 8 sacks. He was chosen second-team All-Pac-12.
As Tryon explained it, he wasn't sure the Huskies would ever play in 2020 so he signed with agent Joe Panos and declared for the draft on August 30. When the UW was cleared in play games in November, it was too late for their touted outside linebacker to backtrack on his decision.
“I wanted to play, man, but just given the circumstances, I just had to make the best decision for me, and [NFL] teams know that my situation was kind of wacky 'cause I opted out, I signed with an agent and then by the time the season came back, I was already three months into training and I couldn't pay back the fees to come back,” Tryon said. “It was kind of sad to watch my team play, but I took it for what it was. I was fully committed to the grind by then.
“Obviously, not playing, you get forgotten about. But at the end of the day, I know what I'm capable of, and I'm not worried about what everyone else has got to say."
At his Husky Pro Day, he posted an unofficial time of 4.65 seconds in the 40-yard dash, submitted a vertical jump of 35 inches and bench pressed 225 pounds 22 times.
The NFL likes him because he's an agile rusher with his long frame but also able to drop into space and cover receivers. He's come a long way in a short amount of time.
Speaking recently with the Akron Beacon Journal, Pete Kwiatkowski, the former UW defensive coordinator now at Texas in the same role, remembers his first introduction to Tryon in 2017, then a redshirt freshman.
“He was like baby deer; he was all over the place with his body control,” Kwiatkowski said. “He had to learn how to strike blockers, play lower and use his hands — all that stuff. He's got a huge upside because he's only played two years."
On paper, Tryon has set himself apart his highly regarded UW teammates, as well as many other edge rushers in the draft.
On Thursday, he'll find out who's interested. Or not.
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