The Eagles are in a position to upgrade several spots. From safety to wide receiver to inside linebacker, the Philadelphia front office can keep weigh all their options. DeMeco Ryans is aging and is due some serious dollars this season and there stands a chance (no matter how unlikely) that he could be let this summer or more likely next summer. The good teams are the ones that plan ahead, so upgrading the depth at inside linebacker could be a solid idea.
Wisconsin's Chris Borland is one of the top inside linebacker in college football and could be a potential target for the Eagles early in the draft.
Borland was a first-team all-state player in Ohio at running back and linebacker coming out of high school. He committed to Wisconsin and played right away. In 13 games (six starts), Borland collected 54 tackles (10.5 for loss), five sacks, an interception, five forced fumbles, three recoveries and three passes defensed. It was quite the first year, as he won Big Ten Freshman of the Year and a first-team Freshman All-American. His sophomore season featured just two games, he suffered a shoulder injury against Arizona State in the second game of the season. He still managed to produce seven tackles (one for loss) and a sack in that limited action.
Given a medical redshirt, Borland played his third season as a full-time starter. The time off likely fuel him, as he had an absolute monster year. In 14 games, Borland collected 143 tackles (19 for loss), 2.5 sacks, two interceptions and five forced fumbles. He was a consensus All-Big Ten selection for his performance on the season. He continued his success in 2012 with 104 tackles (10 for loss), 4.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and three recoveries. He was again awarded first-team All-Big Ten honors.
In his fifth and final season at Wisconsin, Borland stayed pretty consistent in his awesome play. He produced 112 tackles (8.5 for loss), four sacks, two forced fumbles and two recoveries. He was selected as a first-team All-American, Big Ten Linebacker of the Year, first-team All-Big Ten and won the Big Ten Sportsmanship award. He finished his college career with 420 tackles and 50 of those went for a loss in yardage.
He was invited to the Senior Bowl, where he played inside linebacker. He finished the game with a game-high eight tackles (one for loss) and a forced fumble.
Borland is compact at 5-foot-11 3/8 and 245 pounds, but he packs a punch. He is tough and can actually get off blocks, which he does well. Wisconsin thought he was so good at blitzing that they used him as an outside linebacker to pass rush from the outside in their hybrid defense. Borland does have pass rush moves and can get penetration. He had 17 sacks in his career at Wisconsin and it was not solely based on speed. Borland has power and tackles very well. He has also shown a proficiency in coverage against tight ends, running backs and slot receivers.
He is not afraid of contact and has some nastiness to him. His also a crazy play-maker for both his size and his position. Borland may be one of the most fun tapes to watch in this entire draft.
If Borland was 6-foot-2, he'd be a Top 10 pick with very little doubt. The guy is essentially a mini-Karlos Dansby with ability to coverage, inside blitz, get off blocks and make plays. However, he is very mini. His height will likely be a big issue in a league that continues to see larger running backs, wide receivers and especially tight ends. He is fine in coverage, but the height difference in the NFL is definitely worrisome. He may to pull the linebacker version of Russell Wilson, if teams question his ability to stay healthy and productive at his size.
There are times where his size impacts his ability to cover and make diving tackles. He also gets dragged on tackles every now and then.
While inside linebacker may not be an immediate need on paper, Borland is a special player that could serve as the replacement for DeMeco Ryans. He has the talent to be a very productive player, it is simply a matter of whether or not coaches trust his ability to play at his size. Chip Kelly is a "size guy," as is Billy Davis, so it is not a likely marriage. Starting Borland and Mychal Kendricks would give the Eagles two inside linebacker that are under 6-feet tall.