By Adam Hoge-
(CBS) — A look at the top 20 NFL Draft prospects that could be on the Bears’ radar, based on projected availability, position of need and player skill:
LB Chris Borland, Wisconsin
Hand: 9 7/8
Arm: 29 1/4
College Career: 3.5 year starter at Wisconsin who redshirted in 2010 due to season-ending shoulder injury. Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2009. Three-time first-team All-Big Ten from 2011-13. 14 career forced-fumbles was just one short of Bears linebacker Khaseem Greene’s NCAA record 15.
Strengths: Very instinctual player who plays faster than he times. Uses lack of height to his advantage, hiding from blockers and staying out of the vision of ball carriers. Effective blitzer and playmaker who finds the ball. Never quits on plays. Great recovery speed and lateral quickness. Smart player and team captain. Versatile athlete who can also throw, catch and, yes, even kick the ball.
Weaknesses: Short arms. Lacks ideal size for an NFL linebacker. Over-aggressive at times, leading to missed tackles in open space. Durability is a concern, especially at his size in the NFL.
Bears Outlook: This is a classic case of trusting the tape over the measurables. At 5-11, Borland would be a first round pick if he was two inches taller. He’s a tackling machine who can make game-changing plays on the ball. Borland has played inside and outside in both a 4-3 and 3-4 and could play middle linebacker in the Bears’ defense. He might not have ideal height, but he has the speed and hip flexibility to drop back in coverage, while also threatening as a blitzer. The only concern is his durability as he has a lot of mileage (and plenty of bumps and bruises) from a five-year stay in the Big Ten. Taking Borland at No. 14 would be a reach, so he would have to slip to No. 51 in the second round. Not sure that will happen.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.