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Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
After being selected in the fourth round of the '08 draft, Redskins cornerback Justin Tryon didn't do much to distinguish himself. But according to this interview with Skins secondary coach Jerry Gray, Tryon could be a pleasant surprise in '09.
Here's what Gray, a former University of Texas and Rams star, told the intrepid Redskins blogger, Matt Terl, about Tryon:
"I'm gonna tell you, he is going to be really, really good in this league. And I think he is going to be good for a long time.
"I tell him to not lose hope because when you look at the depth chart and see yourself at 3 or 4, he doesn't need to worry about that. Trust me, there are things you can't control and if you control what you can control, you'll eventually get to where you want to go. That's where I think a lot of guys, looking at the depth chart, get uneasy and then they stop working, but you can't stop working. You always have to be working on just you."
That has to be encouraging for Skins fans to read. So far, seventh-round pick Chris Horton is the only major contributor from the class of '08. The Redskins are hoping that guys such as Devin Thomas, Fred Davis, Malcolm Kelly and Tryon can catch up with Horton this season. Terl asked Gray what exactly he'd seen from Tryon that impressed him so much.
"I think when a rookie comes into the NFL as a defensive back, the biggest thing they struggle with is the speed of the game -- and how guys can actually beat you. When you come in as a rookie, you think, 'I can go around and cover everyone.' Next thing you know, you don't know why you are doing what you're doing. You try to cover every route. You don't understand that they can only run so many routes from this position, so many routes from this other position.
"When you understand that, you slow the game way down. Now you don't cover the go when they can't run the go. To me that is where a lot of guys struggle in this league. They come in and they run 4.4, and they may be 5-[foot-]9, they may be 6-3, but they don't understand the middle part of the game.
"That's where it gets rookies. Rookies think, 'I'm big and fast and have all these times,' but they don't realize that if you can keep your physical part and catch up mentally, you are going to be really good. Tryon this offseason is catching up mentally. I've seen it in the first OTAs, I saw it in the first minicamp. You can tell by the way he is backpedaling, he is breaking, he is always close to receivers, and he is not out of position a lot. When you get it, all I need is time coach. To me that is what I've seen from him the first six days."
Pretty heady stuff from a guy who's been around the block as a player and a coach. And Gray's another guy who made the transition from Hashmarks to the Beast with us. He's a huge fan of the college game (especially Art Briles), which is the main reason I love talking to him. I think someone at the collegiate level would be wise to come after Gray the next time there's an opening.