The Miami Dolphins never had the opportunity to select Ryan Shazier or C.J. Mosley during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Both come off the board before Miami’s No. 19 overall pick. After the two was a steep drop off in talent at the position, so it wasn’t surprising to see the Dolphins pass on linebacker prospects during the middle rounds.
In the late fifth round, though, the Dolphins saw an opportunity to finally address a corps that severely underwhelmed in 2013, making Montana linebacker Jordan Tripp pick No. 171 overall.
Tripp was a tackling machine at Montana, showcasing impressive speed, instincts and effort. In Miami, Tripp could compete for a starting role at weakside outside linebacker — yes, as a rookie. Tripp has enough upside to warrant a legitimate shot at unseating Philip Wheeler, who, despite a lofty salary, graded as the worst 4-3 outside linebacker among those qualifying at the position in the entire NFL by Pro Football Focus.
Obviously, there is a reason Tripp was available this late in the draft. He didn’t face marquee competition in the Big Sky Conference. Physically, while Trip has many tools that should translate to the pros, he can have difficulty disengaging from blocks on occasion, which could become a bigger issue on Sundays, and appears a bit stiff at times in the open field.
But he did enough things well at the collegiate level to at least project as good depth for Miami’s linebacker corps, if not stiff competition for Wheeler. Tripp is a high-upside pick by the Dolphins at a position of definite need.
Cody Strahm is an NFL author for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.