In 2013, the Bears struggled with depth at the linebacker position when both D.J. Williams and Lance Briggs were out for portions of the season. The team re-signed Williams to play middle linebacker and the team plans on having Jon Bostic compete with former first-round pick Shea McClellin, who is converting from defensive end to linebacker, for the opening at strongside linebacker.
Even though the team took two linebackers in last year's draft in Bostic and Khaseem Greene, Montana's Jordan Tripp may be too difficult to pass up in the third or fourth round.
"I don't want to sound arrogant, but I believe that I'm the most versatile linebacker in this draft," Tripp told FoxSports.com. "I believe I can run and cover better than any linebacker in this draft."
According to NFL.com, Tripp had the fastest 20-yard shuttle run (3.96) for a linebacker since A.J. Hawk in 2006. He also was in the top 10 among linebackers in the 40-yard dash (4.67 seconds, ninth best), three-cone drill (6.89 seconds, fourth-best), vertical jump (37.5 inches, tied for sixth best) and broad jump (10 feet, ninth best).
During the 2013 season, he had 100 tackles as well as three interceptions, two sacks and three fumble recoveries.
Many have looked at Tripp as a "sleeper" in this year's draft with Bleacher Report's Matt Miller comparing him to last year's breakout rookie, Kiko Alonso.
One of Tripp's biggest strengths is in coverage, where he has the speed to match up with tight ends and running backs and plays with good footwork and fluidity. He does a good job at times of taking on two blockers to free up opportunities for others, but he can sometimes get too caught up and lose containment in the running game.
“I just want to come in and contribute right away and I believe that I can,” Tripp said. “I know I can be an impact player right away. I just need a team to fall in love with me and I’ll get that opportunity.”
With the Bears having an open competition at strongside linebacker, it is a real possibility that Tripp could beat out both Bostic and McClellin for the starting role and become the team's opening day starter.