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NFL Draft 2014: So You Drafted a Badger, Chris Borland Edition

If you're lucky enough to draft Chris Borland, you're getting a practically perfect run-stuffer.


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I have this theory. It's one of those pop culturally-forced metaphors that blogs often like to do. You compare an athlete or a team to something in pop-culture. Like you have the great Evan Anderson, and he compares favorably to Sick of it All's "It's Clobbering Time."

So, I look at Chris Borland and I see him like I would see Daniel Bryan. Supremely talented, but as the combine showed, he's not likely to get into the first round for reasons stupid and otherwise.

First, let's talk the good. Borland brings a massive amount of skill to the table. Despite his official 4.83-second 40-yard dash time, as the tape shows, this is a sideline-to-sideline sort of run-stuffer. The lateral quickness is great. The instincts are supreme. And he's good at getting off blocks and attacking the run. He was also one of the most productive Badgers ever, ending his career with 419 tackles, 49.5 tackles for loss, 16.5 sacks, 15 pass break-ups, 16 quarterback hurries and the UW record for most forced fumbles with 14.

This goes to show you that there's actually a little more to Borland's strengths than just being the tackling machine the narrative would have you believe. Borland's small frame and quickness allow him to absolutely be useful as a pass-rusher coming off the edge. It's tough for a 6'8 guy to get a good bead on him, that's for sure.

But now let's discuss the weaknesses. And there are some, both legitimate and otherwise. We'll start with the short arms. Yes, shorter arms does make it easier to get stuck when a blocker engages you. But Borland has two strengths that can temper that. He's got that intangible motor that separates the great from the good, and one of his biggest strengths is his ability to hand fight off blockers.

And then there's the height thing. He's 5'11. That psychological pricing gimmick dings him. But that being said, he will be 4 inches shorter than the average tight end that he has to cover, and with the evolution of the position to a more athletic and necessary weapon in an NFL passing game, the question of will Borland hold up in pass coverage does have some legitimacy.

If you're drafting Borland, though, you're not planning on seeing what he can do against a Jordan Cameron type. And as his college numbers show, Borland's instincts and coverage do translate to the passing game as well as the running game.

On the pass rush, while Borland is able to shoot the gaps and get in quarterbacks' faces, he doesn't have a move set if he's engaged. In fairness, he seems smart enough to develop one at the pro level, but the way Bret Bielema coached, he never needed to.

Borland did have a tendency to get dinged up along the way, as well. He missed most of 2010 with an injury, he missed a game in 2012 and had to miss most of the Illinois and all of the Iowa game with injuries this year.

All in all? While the lazy comparison to Borland is as a Zach Thomas type, Borland reminds me more of an E.J. Henderson. The 40-time will keep him out of the first round, but the instincts and motor will help Borland carve out a strong NFL career with multiple hundred-tackle seasons along the way.

In short, if your team drafts Chris Borland, you aught to chant "Yes!"