I'm not sure how to begin this post. Never mind; I guess by writing that, I began the post. I could've come up with a much more exciting opening. Oh, well. At any rate, as you probably know, I have followed the draft process with a fervor this offseason; it's a Packer fan's version of free agency, after all. Throughout this season, I've heard Chris Borland's name connected with the Packers more often than most. Superficially, I can see the connections: the Wisconsin product is, well, a Wisconsin product, he's a tackling machine, and he fills a need at linebacker. Plus he seems to have the work ethic and smarts to thrive in a Dom Capers defense. From there on out, I fail to see why the Packers would be interested. Now, as I realized in the Deone Bucannon debate, I don't necessarily consider all factors in my highly amateur player evaluation. In the spirit of FanPosts, I'd like to preface my 'analysis' by encouraging you to sound off in the comments section; I'd love to hear the opposing viewpoint (or, heck, maybe even agreement.) (Note: I know that APC wrote a scouting report on Borland as well. I'm just gauging if opinions have changed/ what his upside is.)
If the Packers just needed a thumper, I'd gladly overlook the height. There's no doubt that Borland has phenomenal instincts; he has, as is the most overused defensive scouting term, 'a nose for the football.' He knows where a play is going, and, yes, many times, his athletic limitations aren't a big deal since he has a head-start on everyone else. Unfortunately for Borland, he's coming to a defense that needs a cover linebacker. Now, while I'm positive that Tim Masthay can fulfill this role for an extended period of time at an All-Pro level, I think we should keep the Ginger Wolverine at punter, and I don't want to go into Week 1 next year with A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones as our starters. One of the two, I can live with. Since neither could've covered a 74-year-old Mike Ditka last year, let alone Martellus Bennett or Kyle Rudolph, the Packers need a lanky athlete (a la Ryan Shazier) to solidify the middle. Borland, well, isn't that. He may fit in the 3-4 like a glove, and that has the Kipers and Mayocks of the world drafting him to the Packers, but he doesn't fill Dom Capers' particular need.
He's no longer the 'big' fish in a little pond.
Look, Chris Borland, I'm sorry about the height joke. I'm not particularly tall at all. Anyway, this comment is in regards to the football IQ and instincts that made him so successful and Wisconsin. In the Big 10, Borland could outwork and out-study his opponents to gain an edge. And it's true, as the old scouting adage goes, that you can't teach instincts. At the same time, Borland will have to make the jump to the NFL, where he'll face offensive players who are as focused as him, if not more. With this advantage negated, Borland is really not more than a specialized situational player; too short and not athletic enough to take on a three-down role.
I honestly don't see the Packers drafting Borland (Ted Thompson has never drafted a Badger, as everyone probably knows by now.) I also don't see why the Packers would make the exception for this guy; there are other inside linebacking prospects in the draft who, yes, Ted Thompson would have to take earlier than the third round, but I don't think that Green Bay will fall back to late Day 2 for this spot unless excellent value at other positions is available in the first two rounds. As I said earlier, however, I'm just a fan, and maybe I'm way off base, so please tell me what you think!