If you had one word to describe Chris Borland, what would it be? Instinctive? Athletic?
Maybe the one word to describe Borland is simply a "force." Four hundred twenty career tackles, 50 tackles for loss, 17 sacks and 15 forced fumbles -- the last stat, a Big Ten record and second-most in FBS history -- spanned his career at Wisconsin. Now, as the 77th overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers, he joins a line of former teammates and Badgers who have played at the next level, some making bigger waves than others.
|WISCONSIN LINEBACKERS IN THE NFL|
|LINEBACKER||ROUND / TEAM||NFL SEASONS / NOTABLE STAT||NOTES|
|Nick Griesen||5th, 2002 / N.Y. Giants||7 / 255 tackles, 5 FF||3 NFL teams|
|Alex Lewis||4th, 2004 / Detroit Lions||5 / 176 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 FF|
|DeAndre Levy||3rd, 2009 / Detroit Lions||5 / 467 tackles, 11 INTs||119 tackles, 6 INT in 2013|
|Matt Shaughnessy*||3rd, 2009 / Oakland Raiders||5 / 159 tackles, 18.5 sacks||2 NFL teams|
|Jonathan Casillas||UDFA, 2009 / New Orleans Saints||4 / 129 tackles, 3 sacks||2 NFL teams|
|O'Brien Schofield*||4th, 2010 / Arizona Cardinals||4 / 91 tackles, 11.5 sacks||Super Bowl champion|
|Mike Taylor||UDFA, 2013 / Seattle Seahawks||0 / Practice squad||Rehabbed sports hernia injury in 2013|
*Shaughnessy and Schofield were both more defensive ends than linebackers in college, but both of them are listed as outside linebackers in the NFL.
Currently, there are five linebackers on NFL rosters, including Taylor, who was added in February to the Seahawks' roster. Wisconsin's group has produced several contributors, including consistent starters in Levy and Shaughnessy. Levy had a particularly strong 2013 campaign with 119 tackles and six interceptions for the Detroit Lions, but was snubbed out of a Pro Bowl selection despite being the second-most impactful player on that defense besides Ndamukong Suh.
Assuming pre-draft concerns over his shoulder aren't a factor, Borland should make a noticeable impact on the 49ers 3-4 defense alongside All-Pro linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, plus Ahmad Brooks and possibly Aldon Smith, barring resolution of legal troubles.
Forget Borland's height. Forget his arm length. Anyone that's seen him play in the past five seasons at Wisconsin respects his instincts, his football intelligence and the tenacity he plays with on the field. Like former teammate Jared Abbrederis, Borland could make the biggest impact at his position in some time (besides Levy) and enjoy one of the most successful pro careers of recent Wisconsin draft picks.