Prospect Preview: Chris Borland ILB Wisconsin

Tom Lynn/ Getty Images North America

By Draft Lead Writer Philip Arnold @PhilipArnold20

Chris Borland 4-3/3-4 ILB Wisconsin

5-11 248 lbs.

104 Tackles, 9.5 TFL, 4 Sacks, 1 QBH,3 FF. First Team All-Big 10 selection in 2012. 

Game Notes vs. Nebraska Big 10 Championship  13 Tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FF

Chris Borland is a Strong side ILB in a 4-3 Wisconsin defense. Saw a strong, explosive player who delivers a blow. Borland Low

  • Against the run: Borland is extremely aggressive and when he see’s a hole, he eats it up.  At the Point of Attack Borland delivers a blow to offender with a good low base. He does a good job getting his pads into the offender causing them to bounce off balance and does a good job fighting off with his hands. Borland is a nice flow linebacker and plants quickly to get up field and fill. Borland also showed good footwork to defeat cut blocks more than once. It was nice to see how well he plays at the point of attack, uses his strength and hands and fills open gaps.
  • Pass Rush: Borland was rarely used in blitzes during this game. One of his only blitzes he came on he used his hands nicely to get off the guard’s block.
  • Coverage: Thought the best thing Borland did well in coverage was ability to spy Taylor Martinez. He showed the ability to close quickly on Martinez and force him to string out the play to the sideline and allowing help to come up. Also liked the range Borland showed getting his hands on a seam route taking it away and fighting out to the curl/slight In route from the receiver. Play action caught him with his eyes in the backfield and left the Tight End open in the seam.
  • Play that stood out: 1 Down and 10. Wisconsin holds a comfortable 28-10 lead over Nebraska after Borland just set Wisconsin’s offense up with good field position causing a forced fumble. Wisconsin is in an I-Formation and runs a quick pitch power play. When Borland sees the play coming to his side, he comes down hill extremely quick. He meets the pulling guard behind the line of scrimmage and delivers a blow to the puller causing him to fall off balance. Once Borland has the offender off balance he a quick hand punch to throw him and make the TFL.

Game Notes vs. Stanford Rose Bowl  9 Tackles

  • Borland once again plays the Strong Side ILB position. He fills holes quickly and plays well down field.
  • Against the Run: Once again you have to love how well Borland plays downhill. He reads his guards and fills the open holes quickly. He meets pull guards and fullbacks in the hole and not 2 yards passed the line of scrimmage. Thought Borland was good in junk with his hands. He does an exceptional job at having low pads while taking on double teams which is highlighted in the Play that stood out.
  • Pass Rush: Borland wasn’t effective in pass rushing and Wisconsin didn’t use him a whole lot. He came on an edge pressure and was ineffective with a spin move he tried. When he came on a blitz through the middle he was also ineffective on a spin move he tried,
  • Coverage: Borland has good awareness and hips in coverage. He does a great job of flipping his hips to find the receiver and once he’s there, he does a good job contain the man is his zone. It was impressive watching a middle linebacker flip and find work in his designated zone. He was also strong on a Tight End choice route taking away the quick option for the Stanford QB Kevin Hogan. Does struggle a bit again in this game in play action seems to have his eyes caught in the backfield.
  • Play that stood out: 2 down and 10. Stanford is backed up on their own two yard line and Stanford runs a power play to Borland. He does a great job of reading a down block from his and coming up to fill nicely. Borland takes on a double team from the pulling guard and fullback who will chip him. He uses his explosiveness and low pad level to take the double team head on and blow them back. As he pushes them back RB Stepfan Taylor is out of running room and Wisconsin holds him to a short gain. It was impressive seeing Borland take on the double team and blow the offenders back into the RB with good strength and a low leverage. There is an old saying in football that the low man always wins, and Borland showed it on this play.

What he does well

Borland is a great downhill player with great strength and explosiveness. Against the run Borland is very physical and aggressive at the point of attack.

Here shows Chris Borland's balance while taking on lead blockers. The Stanford offensive lineman tries to seal Borland while he pursuing an outside play. As the blocker comes back on Borland, he shows the ability to keep good balance and shed the block for a tackle just passed the LOS.

Here shows Chris Borland’s balance while taking on lead blockers. The Stanford offensive lineman tries to seal Borland while he pursuing an outside play. As the blocker comes back on Borland, he shows the ability to keep good balance and shed the block for a tackle just passed the LOS.

It starts with him playing fast downhill and meeting blockers head on in the hole. The next part of being able to be physical against blockers is balance and Borland does it well (right). When he delivers a blow, he doesn’t lose his footing or lose ground, showing his ability to stay balanced from top to bottom and fight off blocks. In coverage Borland is best at flipping his hips and working to find a man entering his zone. He is good at taking away quick reads from quarterbacks by getting into his drops quickly with good hip work. Borland’s ability as a spy guy is nice too. He comes up nicely when the play starts to break down and the QB scrambles. He will string the play out to the sideline long enough for help to join him. The last part of Borland’s game that comes across nicely is his tackling. He is a powerful player and has the explosiveness to go with it. When he makes a tackle in tight spaces you can see the power Borland has. When ball carriers are fighting to gain an extra yard, Borland does a good job of bringing his hips with his tackle to stop forward movement.

What he needs to improve

The biggest concern of Borland’s game right now would be his ability as a pass rusher. Wisconsin limits this part of his game for either two reasons; 1. Because he is more effective in pass coverage or 2. Because he is undersized and doesn’t posses a true rush move. Borland is listed as 5’11” but could even be shorter and has a hard time with bigger athletic linemen. Secondly, Borland hasn’t shown an effective pass rush move. He tried a spin move twice against Stanford and it was eaten up right away. He has also just tried to plow right through and bull rush blockers, also ineffective. Borland also needs to improve his eyes. Though he reads run keys nicely and fills downhill quickly, play action always seems to have him biting up. He needs to improve his ability to continually read his guard keys and get his eyes off the play action motions from the QB and RB.

Top Matchups

9/14 at Arizona State

9/28 at Ohio State

10/12 vs. Northwestern

11/30 vs. Penn State

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