Senior Bowl Linebackers that Could Upgrade the Packers Defense

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NORTH INSIDE LINEBACKERS

Stanford Cardinal running back Stepfan Taylor (33) is tackled by Wisconsin Badgers linebacker Chris Borland (44) and linebacker Mike Taylor (53). Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Chris Borland, Wisconsin, #44

Borland is a scrappy, tough inside presence on the field. Built a bit like a human wrecking ball (5-11, 246), Borland lacks ideal size for the position at the next level, but he makes plays on the field. Borland is excellent against the run, recording three straight 100-tackle seasons at Wisconsin and 50 tackles for loss and 15 forced fumbles in his college career.

According to NFL draft scout, Tony Pauline, Borland has been one of the standout players at Senior Bowl practices this week. “Shows big time playmaking skills defending the run or covering the pass. Constantly around the action and flies to the ball.” Pauline continued to praise the Wisconsin linebacker, “[He] plays all out, explosive and outright dominant. Tremendous during blitz drills and could not be stopped.”

Borland is certainly helping his draft stock this week. Look for him to have a big game on Saturday. The Packers could certainly use a guy like Borland in the middle of their defense. His affinity for stopping the run and getting off blocks could really help a unit that struggled in this respect the past few years.

UCLA Bruins linebacker Jordan Zumwalt (35). Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Jordan Zumwalt, UCLA, #56

Zumwalt is an electric player. He flies around the field and lays the wood on ball carriers. He’s an athletic inside linebacker prospect that can run sideline-to-line and has the nose for contact in the open field.

Zumwalt can also use his long 6-4, 236-pound frame as an edge rusher. His ability to either play inside or outside linebacker is one of his best assets. Pauline also likes Zumwalt’s versatility, “Dominant during blitz drills, showed a lot of skill in pursuit and held his own in coverage. Just a lot to like about his game.”

The former Bruin, once formerly considered a third-round guy, could move up draft boards with his performance this week. He might be a great day two find for a team like Green Bay.

Christian Kirksey, Iowa, #45

September 14, 2013; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones running back James White (8) gets hit by Iowa Hawkeyes linebacker Christian Kirksey (20) in the first quarter at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-US PRESSWIRE

Kirksey is an underrated linebacker prospect that projects either on the weakside in a 4-3 or on the inside in a 3-4 defense. The speedy Iowa prospect excels in coverage and has the explosiveness to get into the backfield and make plays against the run.

The senior from Iowa doesn’t boast great size for the position at 6-2, 235 pounds. However, Kirksey plays bigger than his frame, and he’s putting together an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl practices.

“At times dominated in blitz drills, showed  lot of speed in his game and made plays sideline to sideline . . . did a great job in pursuit,” Pauline said this week about the former Hawkeye.

Kirksey is an athletic defender that could help his draft stock if he shows he can hold at the point of attack and make more splash plays on the field. Kirksey would certainly be an interesting prospect for the Packers to consider in the third or fourth round.

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft 2014 Senior Bowl Chris Borland Christian Jones Christian Kirksey Featured Green Bay Packers Jordan Zumwalt Popular