An in-Depth Look at the Miami Dolphins' Most Intriguing Selection, Jordan Tripp

Andrew Tornetta@AndrewTornettaCorrespondent IIMay 13, 2014

Tommy Martino/Montana Kaimin

Over the course of the 2014 NFL draft, the Miami Dolphins made a number of impressive selections that filled a lot of major holes.

They addressed their offensive line needs with Ja'Wuan James and Billy Turner, added a few offensive weapons with Jarvis Landry, Arthur Lynch and Matt Hazel and they also brought in depth in the secondary with Walt Aikens.

While each of these players bring value to the team, the most intriguing pick the Dolphins made came at the back-end of the fifth round, when they selected Montana linebacker Jordan Tripp.

After just missing out on both C.J. Mosley and Ryan Shazier in the first round, it didn't seem likely that the Dolphins were going to have the opportunity to upgrade their linebacking corps through the draft.

However, the addition of Tripp does just that, as he has the potential and ability to be a consistently productive player from day one.

The interesting aspect of the Tripp addition is the question of where he fits in with the team.

It's possible that he could be thrown in the rotation at outside linebacker, splitting reps with Philip Wheeler, Jelani Jenkins, Dion Jordan and Koa Misi. It's also a possibility he will do the majority of his work on special teams for the first year.

But then you get to the third, and what I believe is the best, option for Tripp, and that's plugging him in as the starting middle linebacker.

It may not necessarily happen right away, but at 6'3" and 234 pounds, Tripp has all the tools needed to take over for Dannell Ellerbe on the inside.

Plugging in Tripp as the middle linebacker in the Dolphins' 4-3 defense allows Ellerbe to play in a more natural role as a weak-side linebacker.

Tommy Martino/Montana Kaimin

It also allows the Dolphins the option of splitting time with Wheeler and Misi on the strong side to better maximize the ability of both players, essentially improving three positions on the defense.

Tripp has the high football IQ, good vision and recognition and the great read-and-react ability needed to excel as the starting middle linebacker. He is a highly instinctive player who has a nose for the football and makes his presence known on nearly every play.

Most importantly, Tripp excels in two areas the Dolphins linebackers struggled in the most—stopping the run and covering both tight ends and running backs.

The latter of which Tripp has shown at both the college level and the scouting combine, where he impressed scouts with his athletic ability.

Among all linebackers, he finished in the top 10 in the 40-yard dash, three-cone drill, vertical jump and broad jump. He also recorded the fastest 20-yard shuttle run (3.96) for a linebacker since A.J. Hawk in 2006.

He has shown a tremendous ability to quickly change direction, play man coverage, backpedal into zone coverage and also read and close out on oncoming passes.

As a run defender, Tripp is adept at using his quickness to slip past would-be blockers and meet opposing running backs at the line of scrimmage.

He is good at getting to the ball but needs to improve his tackling once he gets there. He has a tendency to arm-tackle the ball-carriers and swing them to the ground instead of driving through them with force.

However, that should come with the proper coaching and adding more muscle and weight to his frame. Pair that with his ability to diagnose and react to plays, and he could be a major weapon.

Tripp was projected to go as high as the third round, but he fell in large part due to the relatively weak competition he went up against at Montana.

Thanks to his small-school background, it could be a tough transition initially for him to the NFL level. But there's no doubt that once he can adjust to the faster game, he can be a key contributor to the Dolphins at a very early stage.

Providing Tripp can properly develop and learn to maximize his abilities, in a few years we could be talking about him as the steal of the draft.

Andrew Tornetta is the Miami Dolphins' Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Check out his B/R archive and stay updated on his latest articles by becoming a fan.


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