Chris Borland NFL Draft 2014: Highlights, Scouting Report for 49ers ILB

Darren PageFeatured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2014

Wisconsin's Chris Borland during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Massachusetts Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash/Associated Press

Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin (HT: 5’11½” WT: 248 lbs)

San Francisco 49ers

Third Round: 77th Pick 

NFL Comparison: London Fletcher, LB, Washington Redskins

Combine Weigh-In
511424829 1/4"9 7/8"
Combine Workout
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  • Highly versatile defender who’s made an impact from numerous positions, including edge-rusher 
  • Continuously grew in terms of reading keys and diagnosing plays during collegiate career.
  • Flexible body type that can bend around blocks and change directions in space
  • Sudden feet to win with quickness in short areas
  • Adequate initial burst to close from static positions 
  • Possesses a quick and impactful spin move as a pass-rusher 
  • Fluid hips to turn and run in pass coverage with foot quickness to plant and drive on the ball 
  • Comes downhill with urgency to fill holes when he reads decisively
  • Works across the box with fluidity as a lateral mover while keeping shoulders square to the line of scrimmage
  • Can jump laterally to elude blocks with quickness
  • Consistently wraps up to drag ball-carriers to the ground
  • Doesn’t stop his feet to lunge as a tackler, drives hips through while churning his legs
  • Surprising strength when taking on backs in the hole
  • Plays with an endless motor and infectious intensity level 
  • Has a way of getting to the ball at a high rate


  • Severe lack of length with arms that measure in at just under 29 inches
  • Gets impatient while reading, bounces around too much and takes false steps 
  • Can be too aggressive in run fits and overrun plays, losing his gap discipline
  • Closing speed in the open field is merely average
  • Misses too many plays trying to chase to the perimeter, will get outrun even when he has an angle 
  • Doesn’t possess functional strength as a rusher and is limited by short arms
  • Hops around too much in pass coverage, imprecise footwork
  • Struggles to attain adequate depth in zones
  • Statistically unproductive in coverage, played a spy role often
  • Doesn’t pick his way through congestion well due to lack of length 
  • Poor job taking on interior linemen in the box while holding ground 
  • Aiming point as a tackler can drop incredibly low to make up for lack of size 
  • Will let ball-carriers come to him instead of attacking them by coming downhill 
  • Notable injury history
Collegiate Statistics

Personal Notes

  • 3 star prospect as a recruit in class of 2009, unranked by both ESPN and Rivals
  • Took a medical redshirt after a third surgery on his shoulder in 2010
  • 48 career starts at Wisconsin
  • 2009 Big Ten Freshman of the Year
  • 2013 Nagurski-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year
  • 2013 Big Ten Sportsmanship Award


Ratings Chart

Graph made at


Chris Borland is one of the more divisive prospects in all of the 2014 draft class.  His attacking style, consistent production and sought-after intangibles will endear him to numerous teams.  Others won’t be able to overlook his size limitations and the fact that he isn’t as athletic as you might wish an undersized linebacker would be.  His versatility for defensive schemes and skill set for special teams should keep him on an NFL roster for a long time.  Borland is going to be drafted into a starting lineup, though, and he’ll still have something to prove when he does.

Draft Projection: Third round