The 2016 NFL Draft has defenders of all shapes and sizes. Every so often comes along a player could have played a few decades ago; that guy is former Bama backer Reggie Ragland. His physical, no-nonsense style will translate to the modern-day game as well. I reviewed his 2015 performances against Wisconsin, Georgia, Texas A&M, Clemson, and his Senior Bowl game and practices to get a better understanding of the skill set this young backer will bring to the next level. This is what I saw:
Tag Archives: chris borland
The 90th annual East-West Shrine Game has a lot of tradition behind it, for the community and the NFL. For those that don’t think this game is important, please look back to the 2010 game that featured two prominent 2014 Seattle Seahawk defenders: safety Kam Chancellor and defensive end Michael Bennett. Sure these most players probably won’t get selected in the first three rounds of the draft, but many will make NFL teams and perhaps become starters. I wrote about some of these athletes that stood out to while watching the game on NFL Network. Here are those players listed alphabetically:
ILB Taiwan Jones, Michigan State
The Big Ten linebacker dropped back into coverage quickly. He does a good job shedding blockers and plugging up the middle of the field in short yardage situations. Jones has decent vision anticipating where the ball is heading and is a solid tackler who delivers hard hits.
In fantasy football, there are some new trends that I enjoy writing about: dynasty leagues, and individual defensive player leagues. This weekly column will combine two of those by discussing two young IDPs. I will give my scouting thoughts on how they played a particular week. Today I will be discussing linebackers Chris Borland and Keenan Robinson.
LB-Chris Borland, SF- This rookie was one of the most heralded linebackers coming out in the 2014 Draft until he landed by the bay. The 49ers top two linebackers, Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman, appeared to be cemented as starters for years to come. Fate didn’t exactly turn out that way with Borland being the only healthy one of the three backers so far this season.
The young linebacker certainly turned heads as a Wisconsin Badger and made quite an impression during the Senior Bowl practices in my eyes. Yes, Borland is an undersized backer standing only 5’11”, but his small compact body delivers quick striking hits. He has great vision finding the ball carrier and makes a point to step into blockers to knock them off-balance and shed them quickly. The linebacker is a good student of the game, because he watches the quarterback’s eyes and anticipates where the play is going, getting there sometimes before the offense.
Here at dynasty blitz, I will watch every preseason game and let my readers known what I’m seeing. The NFL landscape is fluid, so please keep in mind that this is only the first week. My concentration was on the younger players and/or new team additions. Here are some quick observations after watching the first half of each game:
LB Chris Borland, SF- The young backer got the start beside Michael Wilhoite. He looked a bit overwhelmed with the speed of the game, and got knocked around the line of scrimmage. It may take some time with him.
WR Bruce Ellington, SF- He returned the first two kickoffs and demonstrated good vision with quick cuts. The rookie wide out did not see any offensive targets with the first team or the second team to my knowledge.
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 me 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.
Re-print of my Senior Bowl articles, I hope these will help you during your rookie drafts.
Well the long Senior Bowl week is almost over. Most of the NFL coaches and scouts have gone back to their team headquarters. The team meetings, practices, press conferences, and hospital visits are over. Now is the time to
play. Who really stood out in real game conditions? I will break down my thoughts from the press box in alphabetical order:
Antonio Andrews, RB
The running back runs well behind his pads and can be a very effective power rusher and receiver. He was a volume back in college so he tends to start slowly and work himself into the game. This might be an issue as I’m not sure if there is an NFL that would be willing to start him right away. Andrews might not be worth more than a fantasy flier.
Chris Borland, LB WISC
The athletic linebacker was everywhere in the game. He covers potential receivers tightly out of the backfield and is a very hard hitter. For a stretch of two quarters it seemed like he was a part of every single tackle as he is always around the ball. His size means nothing to me as Borland can flow to the ball, disengage blockers and hit. If you are in tackle heavy leagues, he might be a LB2 this season!
This is a re-print of my Senior Bowl experience and it might be helpful for your rookie drafts.
Thursday was the final day that the media could view a semi-meaningful practice. The players were back to shells and helmets mostly ran plays at half speed. In yesterday’s article I ranked the offensive skill position players and the impressions they made. Because there is not a lot more to gleam from walk-through practices, I will spend this article reviewing and ranking these defensive players by their positions.
Linebackers/defensive ends (mostly outside rushers, unless indicated)
1) Kyle Van Noy, BYU
This linebacker is the best defensive player here, just beating out the undersized DT Aaron Donald. He flies to the ball with good vision and instinct. Van Noy tackles with force, wraps his arms, and takes the ball carrier down hard. He sheds blockers out of his way quickly while rushing the quarterback or playing the run. The linebacker is a leader and is better suited to play an outside linebacker spot, but can play inside backer as well. Van Noy is in my top five rookie fantasy linebackers.
The NFL Draft caused a major shift in my initial rankings due to defensive schemes used by certain teams and what roles each will play. I am ranking these linebackers in a three to four-year window. They got slotted by their total contribution: tackles, sacks (worth 2 1/2 times a tackle), and turnovers (worth double a tackle).
1.Jadeveon Clowney, OLB, Texans
It was a sad day for all IDP fantasy football players, because Clowney will play for the Texans as an outside linebacker, instead of a defensive end. An ultra-talented defensive end is quite difficult to find. Clowney remains disruptive force with his ability to rush the passer, force turnovers, and work all over the line of scrimmage. With JJ Watt also collapsing the pocket, expect double-digit sacks and plenty of forced fumbles. In leagues that aren’t so generous with rewarding point for sacks, drop him down to the middle of the linebacker pack.
First I would like to apologize to all the IDPers out there for the tardiness of my first defensive player list. We will look at the combined linebacker position and I rated them with a balanced scheme focus so a sack would be worth about two and a half times what a tackle is worth. I will also admit to a Senior Bowl bias as most of these players I got to see up close there.
1. OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
He is a thick, powerful backer with good burst to the ball. Mack disengages with blockers quickly keeping them off his body. Finds the ball quickly which helps him cause turnovers and negative plays for the offense. The outside linebacker moves around well, but struggles somewhat in pass coverage. In big play leagues, he is the best linebacker bar none!