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Chris Borland & Four Other Non-First Round Draft Prospects Who Tickle My Fancy [VIDEOS]

| May 1st, 2014

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Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin

  • If Borland did not have serious medical concerns surrounding the possibility of a third surgery, I truly believe he could have snuck his way into the tail end of the first round.
  • His size draws comparisons to Zach Thomas and that is EXACTLY who he plays like. There is not a linebacker in this draft who does a finer job at sniffing out the ball carrier and closing on him. When you watch Borland, you see a man born to play middle linebacker. And born middle linebackers belong in Chicago.
  • ESPN’s Brian Bennett did a brilliant profile of Borland in October. One of my favorite quotes: There are times when he’ll make a big play at practice, and then as he’s jogging back, he’ll do a backflip,” defensive coordinator Dave Aranda said. “That’s Chris.” Read the entire profile by CLICKING HERE.
  • Borland’s style of play suggests that even if he struggled at LB he could be one of the best special teams men in the sport.
  • From a human perspective, a rooting perspective, there is not a player in this draft I’d be happier to see in a Bears uniform.

De’Anthony Thomas, RB/WR/KR, Oregon

  • Bears have three “offensive production” needs: Forte backup/scat back, speed threat on the outside and kick returner. Thomas fills all three needs with one body. (Though I’m not sure how many carries I’d give him.)

  • That body is not particularly big and I’d have concerns about him holding up over the course of an NFL season but the Bears would have the luxury of using Thomas in specific situations and not every offensive down.
  • Thomas is one of those players that makes me question the weight put on the Combine and Pro Days. (Thomas and pretty much every other player.) He ran 4.39 at his Pro Day and 4.5 at the Combine. For a guy who is dependent almost entirely on his speed that is somewhat insane.
  • Thomas is a toy. He could end up being those amazing WWF action figures with the plastic ring that occupied years of my childhood. He could also end up being Mousetrap, wherein you spend an hour setting up a game that – let’s face it – sucks.

Watch the cut at the :33 mark.

Demarcus Lawrence, Pass Rusher, Boise State

  • Phil Emery is a scout at heart and scouts tends to keep their eyes in a particular geographic location. We know Emery has spent some time watching Boise and that’s why I think Lawrence is legitimately in play for the Bears in the first few rounds.
  • Here is the breakdown of his weaknesses from CBS Sports:While quick, does not appear to have the preferred straight-line speed for linebacker and does not possess the bulk normally associated with defensive linemen, making him a potential ‘tweener in the eyes of some teams. Struggles to break free once blockers grab hold of his chest plate. Only average balance. Too often gets tripped up and knocked to the ground. Moved around a lot in Boise’s scheme, presenting him with advantageous match-ups.”
  • But here is the next line: COMPARES TO: Jason Babin, Jacksonville Jaguars – Like Babin, Lawrence projects nicely as a LEO defensive end due to his burst, length, tenacity and surprising strength.” With the current make up of Bears defensive ends, a pass rushing-specific left end is EXACTLY what they are lacking if you believe, as I do, Houston will be slid inside on third-and-longs.
  • I understand the competition Lawrence faced is not comparable to the SEC but 20 sacks and 34 tackles for loss over two seasons is PRODUCTION. And when it comes to second and third-round picks, I’m looking for a guy who has made plays at the collegiate level.

This is just one game but look at the versatility and persistent motor of this guy.

Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU

Like most trainers, Marucci spends a lot of time around the players, probably more than most coaches. And given that Mettenberger’s now working back from a torn ACL (and the ensuing reconstructive surgery) aftershredding his left knee in the Tigers’ regular-season finale, Marucci’s spent even more time around the quarterback.

He’s sold. So are others in the program. They’ve seen the kid go from shaggy-haired party animal with a bad reputation to tough, battle-tested team leader.

Yes, Mettenberger still needs to shake his head every few minutes to keep the mop top from blocking his vision. Most everything else has changed.

“It really came down to thinking about what I wanted in life,” Mettenberger said in early April, a day beforeputting on a pro-day display that proved he’d made a quantum leap in coming back from the surgery. “I wanted to be a great quarterback in the NFL. You can’t do that being at the bars every night of the week. I sat down and thought about my priorities and what’s important to me. And I knew what I needed to sacrifice. I’ve done that.”

  • (In that Mettenberger quote you will find the signature clue as to why I am not a great quarterback in the NFL.)
  • Here’s the Jeff Hughes phrase that pays: Mettenberger is Mallett without the Mistakes.
  • Here is why I love Mettenberger as a potential Bears QB, as stated by Mike Mayock:

“Without the injury, I still don’t think he’s going to be a first- or second-round pick,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. “I think what he is  and what worries me a little bit on tape is I think he stares down some of his intended receivers, I think the ball comes out late sometimes. He’s not a guy that I think can start Day 1 in the NFL anyway.

“So, if you ask me how much it would impact him, the injury, I don’t think quite as much as you might think on the surface, because I do believe he’s got a lot of learning to do. I like his size, I like his ability and I like his arm strength. It’s more just a matter of his footwork, being more consistent with the ball, his feet being lined up, getting the ball out and some of the reads he makes. I think he just doesn’t get the ball out quickly enough and I think that’s something that a young quarterback has got to develop.”

  •  You can’t teach size. You can’t teach arm strength. But reading the field effectively and getting the ball out on time are quite literally Marc Trestman’s two signature strengths as a QB whisperer. Mettenberger, under Trest’s tutelage, could be the starting quarterback of the Chicago Bears in three years and a valuable backup long before that.

If I don’t see pro-style throws when I watch a QB play, I have no idea what to evaluate. Mettenberger makes a million of them.

Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson

  • Gigantic (6’5-211) and fast as hell (4.42 at Combine).
  • Drops way too many passes and those drops become eyebrow-raising because he’s quite often yards clear of the nearest defender when he drops the ball.
  • Needs to be molded and is there a better head coach/receivers room in the league for that molding to take place?
  • Downside is he’s a dud. But you have to take shots on talents especially in the middle rounds.
  • Upside is he develops into a faster version of Plaxico Burress, without the gun tucked into his sweatpants.

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