Sep 7, 2013; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers linebacker Chris Borland (44) during the game against the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin won 48-0. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Overview: Chris Borland was a highly productive player at Wisconsin and I’ve seen him mocked to the Bears in several mock drafts this offseason, so I thought you guys might like to know a little more about him. With 420 tackles, 50 tackles for loss, 17 sacks, and 15 forced fumbles in his career, Borland has some of the more impressive numbers of any player coming out in the draft this year and it’s impossible to miss him when you watch tape of Wisconsin’s defense over the past three years. His most productive year came in 2011, after recovering from season-ending shoulder surgery in 2010, when he posted an eye-popping 143 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 5 forced fumbles.
- Extremely active. Always moving and constantly around the ball.
- Good short area burst. When he has a target in his sights, he can close in a hurry.
- Shows ability to blitz. Makes mincemeat of less athletic offensive linemen and actually has some pretty nice moves.
- Solid tackler. Wraps up well and strikes with authority.
- Tenacious. There’s no give up in this guy. He’ll do all the dirty work.
- Instinctive playmaker. 15 career forced fumbles says it all.
- Severe coverage limitations. Struggles to get depth in his zones and is a liability in man coverage whether it’s against running backs or tight ends.
- Doesn’t change direction well. Very susceptible to juke moves.
- Short for the position. There aren’t a lot of 5-11 linebackers in the NFL and the success stories among them are even fewer. Short arms (29 1/4″) don’t help either.
- Has a hard time beating backs to the edge. Takes good angles, but the running back is often past the line of scrimmage by the time he gets there.
NFL Player Comparison: Zach Thomas, formerly of the Miami Dolphins. Thomas has been retired for years now, but the comparison was just too good to pass up. Like Borland, Thomas was a highly productive college linebacker, but his lack of height (5-11) and athletic limitations caused him to fall in the draft. Thomas will likely be a hall of famer one day, and I’m not ready to put Borland in that category yet, but the similarities are undeniable. Thomas overcame his physical limitations with effort and by honing his technique to near perfection. I don’t see why Borland couldn’t do the same.
The Way I See It: It’s hard not to root for a high effort guy like Borland, but I’m not sure he’s a perfect fit for the Bears. He’s likely a two down thumper who will need to come off the field in nickel situations. I think his best chance to succeed would be on the inside of a 3-4 defense. That having been said, if the Bears can get him for a 5th or 6th round pick, I think he’d be worth the risk. He projects well on special teams and has some starter potential.