Welcome to a new feature here on Birds 24/7: Eagles Draft Daily. From now until May 8, we’ll give you some kind of draft-related post every weekday until the first round kicks off with the Houston Texans on the clock.
As the B247 loyalists know, we’re keeping track of all the Eagles’ pre-draft visits over here.
Some wonder if that is a pointless activity. What’s the significance of the visits anyway? Some perspective from former Eagles scout John Middlekauff:
Every NFL team has 30 visits they can use to bring in prospects. Most don’t waste them on guys they’re not interested in
— John Middlekauff (@JohnMiddlekauff) April 6, 2014
Teams cannot work these prospects out at their facilities. Instead, they conduct interviews, get necessary medical updates and continue to build up background information.
Just because a prospect visits doesn’t mean he is high on the team’s draft board. But more often than not – for the Eagles at least – it means they want additional information. They might have character/personality questions, injury questions, etc.
The draft is unpredictable. Even high-ranking NFL officials don’t know how it’s going to play out because there are so many wild cards. Plus, the Eagles might find themselves with the opportunity to acquire one of the 2014 draftees next year or later down the road if things don’t work out with the player’s original team.
Bottom line: It’s another way to gather information before making a potential investment.
And that brings us to today’s prospect to know: Montana LB Jordan Tripp. Tripp is in town to visit the Eagles today, according to Gil Brandt of NFL.com.
At 6-3, 234 pounds, he would be an inside linebacker in the Eagles’ 3-4 scheme. As you can see by the graph below, Tripp is an excellent athlete:
In a recent interview with FoxSports.com, Tripp mentioned a key word that Chip Kelly and his staff love.
“I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I believe that I’m the most versatile linebacker in this draft,” Tripp said. “I believe I can run and cover better than any linebacker in this draft.”
The Eagles currently have DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks at the inside linebacker spots. But Ryans played a lot of snaps last year, and the team is looking for some depth. Tripp, specifically, would be intriguing as a sub-package player, someone with coverage chops who could come in on obvious passing downs, while also contributing on special teams.
From Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com:
Spent some time studying Montana LB Jordan Tripp. He has plenty of range vs the run and he’s athletic in coverage. Intriguing middle rd pick
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) April 3, 2014
And via Greg Gabriel of the National Football Post:
He is very good in coverage, has the athleticism and change of direction to play man, and has the awareness to be effective in zone. He transitions very well for a linebacker and has very good hands.
While not used a lot to blitz, he is effective and will come hard. He needs to learn some redirect moves and use his hands better.
As you might imagine, Montana wasn’t on TV a ton last year. But below is a DraftBreakdown.com cut-up of Tripp against Coastal Carolina:
In terms of LB depth behind Ryans and Kendricks, the Eagles have Najee Goode, Emmanuel Acho, Jake Knott and Jason Phillips.
Knott will miss the season’s first four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Acho didn’t make the team out of camp last year, but was eventually brought back. Phillips was a free-agent signing who missed the season with an ACL injury. And Kelly spoke highly of Goode at the owners meetings.
The guess here is that the Eagles will almost definitely add to that group in the draft. Given his versatility and athleticism, Tripp could be an option in the mid-to-late rounds.