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IDP dynasty fantasy football is all about situations.  The first defensive player I wanted to write about was former Wisconsin inside linebacker, Chris Borland.  The new 49er is a bit undersized to play the position in the NFL, but he showed borlandme something during the Senior Bowl practices that helps vault him up my rankings.  I watched four of his 2013 games against Minnesota, Ohio State, Arizona State, and South Carolina for this article, along with a quick review of my notes from Mobile. 

 

First let’s discuss the negatives of his play.  Borland is small for his position, which is why he gets the Zach Thomas comparison.  Thomas was more fluid and a bit quicker than the former Badger.  The new 49ers linebacker reminds me somewhat of former Buckeye and Lion Chris Spielman, because Borland makes a lot of his tackles in trail position several yards down the field.  While in fantasy football, a tackle is always a tackle, I would like to see him take on blockers to get himself in a better position to make the play.  Borland also likes to leave his feet launching his shoulder into the ball carrier.  This forces the offensive player backwards, but there were a few times Borland failed to make the tackle because he is so off-balance.  He is a bit stiff dropping back into pass coverage and I have my doubts he will keep up with NFL running backs and tight ends for more than five yards in coverage.  Until Borland improves in this area, he might be limited to a two down thumper to begin his career (of course he needs to earn his way on the field with two all-star backers in front of him).

What Borland has in spades is heart and tenacity!  In the five games (Senior Bowl included) and four Mobile practices, the linebacker kept on flowing to the ball with his legs pumping like a running back’s.  Now that is a high motor guy and who you want leading your defense.  It didn’t matter if it was a pass, run, or kick, because Borland was always around the ball. Borland has great vision and anticipation of what the offense is trying to do and does his best to get into position to stop them.  There were perhaps four or five plays in total that he got fooled by any sort of misdirection.  Borland trusts what he sees and closes quickly.  He uses his hands to keep blockers off his body (sometimes with a powerful punch), gets low, and anchors with his strong trunk in short yardage situations.

Borland is a little underrated with his pass rushing.  He rushed from both the inside and outside linebacker spots, but was more efficient from his inside backer spot.  The linebacker can dip his shoulder underneath to swim past interior linemen or a quick spin move to gain separation.  It’s his cat-like balance and desire that make him a constant nuisance. Borland has explosive lateral quickness that helps him break down quickly and find the player with the ball. Once the backer or anyone on his team has control of the ball carrier, Borland attempts to pry the pigskin away.  He has a great ripping motion that is very effective.  Dynasty owners will need to be patient with him as the young linebacker might not play a significant role for a year or two, but with a little coaching up, I can see Chris Borland becoming a dynasty LB2.   Considering where he is going in rookie drafts, that is a good value.

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