It’s not very often a small-school linebacker develops into an NFL star. That, however, is exactly the path Jordan Tripp is on after the Miami Dolphins made him their fifth-round pick during the 2014 NFL Draft.
A physical, instinctive linebacker out of FCS school Montana, the 6’3’’, 234-pound Tripp still has a long way to go before he’s ready to dominate opponents in the NFL. However, with his impressive skill set and excellent athleticism, there’s no denying that Tripp has all of the tools to succeed with the Dolphins.
The first step for Tripp is working his way up the depth chart.
Currently the third-string weak-side linebacker, Tripp is slotted behind subpar starter Philip Wheeler and 2013 fourth-rounder Jelani Jenkins in the pecking order. Chances are that won’t change anytime soon, but the potential is there for him to make significant progress throughout the 2014 campaign.
Slated for significant special teams action, Tripp will be given an opportunity to excel on kick and punt coverage from the get-go. Considering how athletic and tenacious of a player he is, the Montana product should have no problem standing out in that role. Before long, the Dolphins will be forced to give him defensive snaps.
The best part with Tripp is how versatile of a player he is. The Dolphins lined him up at middle linebacker during their rookie minicamp, and he possesses the measurables to essentially step into any of the three linebacker spots. Especially since the Dolphins are looking to reduce Wheeler’s snaps in 2014, a strong showing from Tripp during the preseason could give them enough confidence to at least incorporate him into a rotation so that he can continue adjusting to the speed of the NFL.
Tripp could also get serious looks at middle linebacker if Koa Misi continues to disappoint. He was a captain and leader at Montana, and has the intangibles to take the defensive reins in Miami.
No matter how they do it, the Dolphins must get Tripp on the field soon. He’s a dynamic playmaker with a nose for the football – evidenced by his 10 fumble recoveries in college. Tripp plays with tremendous aggressiveness, is relentless against the run and shows outstanding tackling ability in the open field. While not exactly an enforcer, he’s a smart, reliable player who simply knows how to get the job done.
It might not happen immediately, but Tripp will be a star for the Dolphins in the not-so-distant future. Just be patient Miami fans – it won’t be long before this fifth-round pick proves his worth.