Jordan Tripp is a third generation Montana Grizzly who has been the middle linebacker, but has contributed all over the place on their defense. In his time for Montana, Tripp has done a little bit of everything and been able to make plays against the run, as a pass rusher and in coverage, which earned him a spot to participate in the Reese’s Senior Bowl as one of the smaller school invites to the event.
For the NFL, Tripp still needs to get bigger, but he does have good athleticism and speed. He has shown some natural ability in pass coverage, especially in zone and can help on the blitz. The question teams will have with Tripp is if they believe he can contribute as a run defender now and if not now, do they believe he will in the future. Tripp warrants an early day three pick but if a team values his versatility and believes he can contribute early, he has a shot to go on the second day of the draft.
Vitals & Build
Tripp measured 6’3” 234lbs at the scouting combine with 30 ¾” arms. He has a strong build, but he is undersized by NFL standards. Tripp has good straight line speed and he works really effectively laterally, but he does have some issues with stiffness in his hips and can have some trouble making dramatic changes in direction. If Tripp can continue to add muscle and get around into the 240lb range while maintaining his athleticism, he could have a good amount of potential going forward.
Tripp is a pretty solid tackler. He does not always wrap up, but for the most part, when he gets his hands on a guy, they tend to go down. There will be some questioning how well that will work with his size against the NFL, coming up from Division II, but he generally does a good job of getting in position and breaking down before initiating contact, so he is able to get all of his weight into his tackling attempts.
Tripp is aggressive, diagnoses quickly and likes to play downhill. He is really comfortable playing at different spots and from different angles, playing up near the line of scrimmage, inside or outside.
His angles can occasionally be slightly off chasing plays to the outside, but for the most part, he does a good job of cutting off runs and making himself look fast on the field. As a result, he can show a good amount of range and cover ground when he is able to work laterally or just turn and run. He will run into some issues when he gets caught leaning one way and tries to make a full change in direction.
Tripp has shown he can take on and shed blocks, but needs to do so faster. He does not waste a lot of time trying to work around blocks and will try to hold his ground or make the play by going through the block. Tripp does a good job of being able to slip or shock through blocks that he can get through trash effectively.
Tripp shows a real knack for being able to play in zone coverage and playing with his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage. He has a good sense of spacing and where he needs to be in order to potentially make plays while also being able to ensure he has coverage. Tripp moves well laterally and is able to slide and keep his body square throughout coverage until he needs to break on the ball and make a play.
In man coverage, Tripp is good when he has a good feel for where the route is going. He can run fast in a straight line and if he can edge around with a receiver, he has shown the ability to stay with them and run stride for stride. Tripp will have problems when opponents are able to keep him off balance or get him to make a mistake as he can have trouble recovering and making up ground.
When Tripp is confident in where he is going and can flow that direction, he is effective and looks really natural in the process. If he can get better with his hips and be more fluid, able to recover more effectively when he makes a misstep, he can be a far more complete coverage linebacker. Nevertheless, Tripp should be able to contribute in this area for a team almost immediately.
Pass Rush & Blitz Ability
Tripp has experience blitzing both inside and from the outside. He has been used on declared blitzes as well as selling delayed rushes. His burst and speed make him able to get on top of the quarterback quickly, especially up the middle. Tripp has a good sense of when he needs to attack and selling his intent before the snap, randomizing fakes and how and when he will show and then drop.
Tripp has the speed to help on the outside or through the C gap, but he looks at his best going through the A or B gap. The fact he is capable of helping in coverage and generally likes to play downhill, it makes him more of a threat as a rusher.
Tripp could certainly play a role on special teams coverage units, both when it comes to kickoff and punt, but he also has experience as a long snapper. It is possible that he will be the emergency guy if the regular snapper were to go down, but in a league always trying to save roster spots, it is possible that there is a team brave enough that while Tripp is depth, he could be the team’s only long snapper and give a team an extra roster spot, which would make him more valuable.
Tripp is intriguing because he played all three linebacker spots in college. However, he seems to be more suited to play either a middle linebacker or weak side linebacker in the NFL for a 4-3 scheme or a weak inside linebacker in a 3-4.
Initially, Tripp is going to have to earn his spot as a coverage linebacker who can play in sub packages and then contribute on special teams. Tripp has the potential to start in the NFL if he can get a little bigger and continues to get better as a run and pass defender.
Tripp has some similarities to DeAndre Levy of the Detroit Lions. After finishing his career at Wisconsin, Levy has found a dream fit with the Lions and has been terrific as a weak side linebacker. He has become one of the best coverage linebackers in the NFL, but has gotten better as a run defender with time in the league. Tripp could find himself in a similar circumstance, finding a niche in coverage and then expanding on it with development and experience.
Jordan Tripp has a well-rounded skill set that could make him attractive to a number of different teams and defensive schemes. He has to fight against competition questions playing in Division II as well as concerns over a lack of size. Tripp was able to compete against high level talent in the Senior Bowl, which may help to eliminate some of the competition questions. It seems as though Tripp will spend the start of his career as depth and on special teams, but he does have the potential to become a full service starter. As a result, Tripp warrants an early third day pick in the NFL Draft.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com