How Jordan Tripp Fits the Miami Dolphins

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How Jordan Tripp Fits the Miami Dolphins
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The Miami Dolphins weren’t happy with their $60 million investments in the 2013 season, as middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and weak-side linebacker Philip Wheeler struggled mightily to make an impact. They’ve now added pressure to that group by selecting Montana’s Jordan Tripp with the No. 171 overall pick.

 

Upside

Jordan Tripp has above-average athletic traits, including what Bleacher Report’s feature columnist Darren Page said about him: “terrific long speed to chase down plays in the open field." The Dolphins have lacked great athletes throughout the roster, and especially the defense, so Tripp helps add to the talent pool.

He reads well quickly and efficiently, allowing him to limit wasted movement and attack the line of scrimmage or retreat into coverage with ease. His quickness allows him to get a good jump off the snap, forcing the offense to react.

Tripp shows good instincts in coverage, as he’ll retreat to the proper zone and roam, forcing the quarterback to account for him.

He's able to cover tight ends, which Miami notoriously struggles to defend. His man-skills are more like a safety, showing great potential in coverage.

As a captain on the Montana Wildcats, he is yet another leader that coach Joe Philbin will love.

Tripp was also a great value for the Dolphins, as he was rated the 104th overall player by CBS Sports, which is a third- to fourth-round pick.

 

Downside

Tripp was always around the ball, but he wasn’t a dominant, fly-off-the-screen talent at Montana. As noted below, he might not have been drafted if not for his Senior Bowl participation.

He will have to be protected well by the defensive line, as he is small in his frame, so he could get swallowed up on run plays. His lack of strength limits his ability to be a traditional in-the-box linebacker early in his career.

His technique overall is lacking, as he doesn’t engage and disengage blockers well. He has to extend his hands consistently, because he has shorter arms, which puts him at a disadvantage when fighting blocks.

It is unlikely he contributes much as a rookie outside of special teams, as Miami already has Dion Jordan and Jelani Jenkins, each of whom are able to play weak-side linebacker and cover tight ends down field.

 

Final Thoughts

Tripp is the exact player that former general manager Jeff Ireland used to ignore, because of his size and limited instant impact ability, but he has tremendous upside if he can become technically sound and add strength.

Dennis Hickey used a pick he received from an earlier trade down with the San Francisco 49ers to select Tripp, so it is difficult to be too critical of this selection. With low risk and high reward, Tripp was a solid addition in the fifth round.

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