The Miami Dolphins made a number of very safe selections in the 2014 NFL Draft. They were clearly looking for character guys, former captains and small-school players with chips on their shoulder.
Perhaps no player represents Miami's 2014 draft better than fifth-round selection Jordan Tripp from Montana. Tripp was a captain and one of the best defensive FCS players in the country.
Tripp could also end up being one of the best values not just for Miami, but in the entire draft.
While he may not be an elite athlete, Tripp certainly brings a lot to the table. He stands at 6'3" and doesn't seem to have a inch of bad weight on his 234-pound frame.
He put up some solid numbers at the Combine, especially on the agility drills, which is extremely encouraging for a linebacker adjusting to Miami's 4-3 system. His strength needs some work, but that can be done in an NFL weight room.
While he projected more as a 4-3 outside linebacker, he has apparently been getting reps on the inside, to the surprise of Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (and myself).
That the coaches believe he can get some work as a middle linebacker can only be seen as a good thing for both Tripp and Miami fans. It means he can learn more about the defense, and also be extremely versatile when the regular season rolls around.
Tripp even brought some of these points up in an interview after practice, which can be seen at the Dolphins' official site.
In that interview, Tripp comes across as an intelligent and humble person who understands his role on the team and seems focused on getting better and making contributions.
At Montana, Tripp became a full-time starter in 2010 as a true sophomore, finishing the year with 99 tackles and 9.0 TFL, along with three fumble recoveries.
He then started in his first three games as a junior, but suffered a season-ending injury and obtained a medical redshirt after the season.
The following year as a redshirt junior, Tripp had 95 tackles, including 13.5 TFL and 5.5 sacks. Then he put up 100 tackles as a senior, to go along with 5.5 TFL and two sacks. He also had five forced fumbles, four interceptions and two defensive touchdowns in those two seasons combined.
He went to the Senior Bowl and played extremely well, helping his draft stock along the way. Bleacher Report's own head scout Matt Miller was high on Tripp during the season, really liked what he saw from Tripp at the Senior Bowl, and continued praising him throughout the winter and spring.
Watching him on the field, it's not hard to see why Miller likes him so much.
Tripp is a real playmaker with a nose for the ball. He flies around the field and is sometimes almost too aggressive, getting caught overrunning the play.
But for the most part, he's a really dynamic presence in the open field, and also has the determination to push into the middle of the field and get knocked around while trying to make a play.
He's a solid tackler who will not lay people out, but will also rarely fail to bring someone down if he gets a clean shot at the runner.
Miller isn't the only Bleacher Report writer who liked Tripp's game. Matt Bowen, a seven-year NFL veteran who now lends his knowledge to B/R and is now one of the best football writers in the business, has sung Tripp's praises as well.
Bowen highlighted Tripp's quickness and fluidity, as well as his proficiency in zone coverage, which should help him immensely in Miami's 4-3 base defense. Bowen also discussed the potential for Tripp to make an impact on special teams right away, which I would strongly second.
According to Kelly, Tripp started out playing on the third team in OTAs, which is not particularly surprising for a fifth-round pick out of Montana. It's going to take some time for him to adjust to the game.
But this is a long-term deal here. Don't be surprised if he starts slowly creeping up the depth chart as the season wears on and he becomes more accustomed to NFL speed.And with his intelligence, versatility and nose for the ball, there's no doubt in my mind that Tripp can eventually become a starting linebacker for Miami.
If that does indeed happen and Tripp becomes even a modest contributor for the Dolphins, well then, that's the definition of value. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2079 ... i-dolphins