Chris Borland   LB   Wisconsin

TALENT BOARD ROUND 3

STRENGTHS
Chris has the remarkable ability to understand HOW to play the game of football. He has excellent “in the box” quickness with good north-south speed that allows him an excellent burst to the ball. He shows good explosion off the line of scrimmage when used on the outside from a two point stance to rush the passer. He is a smart player who is a coach on the field and a leader on and off the field. Chris does a good job in zone coverage on passing downs. He makes his drops deep enough and understands situational football. He is the type of player who makes plays all over the field because of his instincts and excellent film study. Chris gets better and stronger as the game goes on and in the 4th quarter always comes up with an impact play. He has this quirky skill of slipping blocks instead of shedding them and making tackles in the hole that bigger linebackers would not be able to make. Chris reminds me a lot of former Lions Linebacker Chris Spielman who was drafted in the 1988 draft in the second round. For those of you who don’t remember Chris Spielman, do your own search. I can’t do everything.

CONCERNS
I have seen many athletic and even bigger linebackers drafted in the first round that never made it in the NFL, so not selecting Chris at some point in this draft because of a lack of size seems pretty ridiculous to me, but it might happen. He does lack lateral agility and change of direction skills that you would expect to see in a player who has been as productive against top talent like Chris has been and yet…he is very productive. Early in a game Chris thinks too much which affects his ability to impact, but as the game goes on, he becomes more instinctive and seems to flow to the ball much better. He MUST wrap up on every tackle or players will break through him for needed yardage.

BOTTOM LINE
We can go round and round about how the NFL teams rank players and put preferences on size and speed over productivity but it will not get Chris drafted early in this draft. Some teams are not going to look at drafting Chris just because of his size. There are GM’s that have size/speed ratios for every position and they will take Chris off their boards because of this. I can tell you this: if I’m a new coach, coaching a team that has a history of drafting in the top fifteen for the last five years, I would be a fool not to draft Chris. Chris is the player I want my more “athletic” players to see in the film room on the Monday after the Sunday game. I want them to see how he mentally and physically manipulates the front seven on defense on every play and how he is in the right position to make a play on every down. I want his teammates to see how he gets blocked and knocked to the ground and quickly gets back up to make the tackle others have missed. I want them to learn from Chris HOW to play the game of football by watching how he plays. I want them to see how he stuffs a bigger, more athletic running back in the hole on the goal line when others are taking the down off. I want them to see how Chris, who might be the smallest player on the field, impacts more than his bigger, more “athletic” teammates. That’s why I draft Chris, and that’s why losing teams who want to turn around the stench of losing for the last five years should be thinking about selecting Chris and adding him to their team. If you want to see Chris’ size as a negative go right ahead, but to me, I see it as a positive. I see it as a way to turn around the stench of losing. Chris could start and play linebacker on my team any day and after I selected him in the draft I would tell my coaches to stop looking for the perfect SIZE linebacker and COACH BETTER.

Drew Boylhart
FEB/2014