Packers fans are among the most knowledgeable in the league, but even the majority of them had no clue who Jordan Tripp was when he signed with the team last December. Since that included yours truly, I decided to put the former Montana star under the microscope. What I saw on the All-22 was better than expected.
If not for the burnished gold helmet and the teal number 58, I could’ve sworn I was watching pretty much any inside linebacker who’s played for the Packers this decade. That includes Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez. In fact, the 26-year-old Tripp might be a slightly better athlete than both of the team’s current projected starters at the position.
Tripp (4.67) didn’t run quite as fast as Ryan (4.65) at their respective Combines, but he diagnoses plays a bit quicker. He’s faster and more fluid than Martinez. The very best of Tripp is on display in the video below.
Tripp begins the play lined up opposite Tennessee right tackle Byron Bell. Pay attention to how quickly he figures out and then reacts to what’s going on. It’s not a particularly flashy play, but plenty of inside linebackers wouldn’t have been in position to hold very athletic quarterback Marcus Mariota to a mere 2-yard gain.
Against the run, Tripp is pretty much hit or miss – kind of like every Green Bay inside linebacker since Desmond Bishop. In the first video, he impressively knifes through traffic and brings down Indy running back Frank Gore. In the second video, he gets caught up in traffic and doesn’t make the tackle until Gore is already 6 yards past the line of scrimmage. That’s a play Packers fans have seen way too often in recent years.
In coverage, Tripp does an adequate job in zone, but he’s not going to be able to cover many athletic tight ends in space – at least not consistently. Then again, that applies to about 90% of the inside linebackers in the National Football League. Truth is, if a general manager is looking for a true three-down player, he’s probably not going to find him on day 3 of the draft. And that’s where Tripp, Ryan and Martinez were all picked.
So why has Tripp been released by three teams since entering the league in 2014 while A.J. Hawk lasted for almost a decade with the Packers and both Ryan and Martinez seem very secure for the foreseeable future? The answer is pretty simple. Most GMs will always look to upgrade from players like Hawk, Martinez and to a lesser extent Ryan, but Thompson seems to collect them and then hold on to them forever.
With Ryan, Martinez and Joe Thomas ahead of him on the depth chart and rookie safety Josh Jones expected to see plenty of time at inside linebacker in the nickel and dime packages, Tripp will need to excel on special teams to even stand a chance of earning a spot on the final roster in 2017. He might be every bit as mediocre good as the competition, but fair or not, that probably won’t matter come cutdown day.