Before the 2013 season concludes the job of scouting talent for the draft begins as two college football all-star games have already been played. This week the biggest of the all-star games, the 2014 Senior Bowl, makes its annual appearance in Mobile, Alabama.
Like most years there will be a plethora of talent on the field for the North and South squads. Also like most years a few players will open eyes to NFL scouts and move themselves up draft boards.
The Bengals have drafted well over the last few years and I expect this year to be no different. They are drafting certain types of players and are staying away from character issues, something that wasn’t avoided in the past.
Here is an early look at some prospects that I feel fit what the Bengals might be looking for and the needs of the current and projected roster.
Wisconsin MLB Chris Borland
Borland was one of the most impressive players this week at the Senior Bowl, but the undersized 5-11, 245-pounder won’t go high because of his frame.
Just like his former undersized teammate, Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, if you just watch him on the field, he was one of the best players at his position in the nation for the past two years.
Borland was named the Big Ten Conference’s Linebacker of the Year and the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year after finishing with 102 tackles and 8.5 tackles for a loss in just 11 games after missing one contest due to a hamstring injury.
He’s drawn comparisons to former Miami Dolphins LB Zach Thomas, another undersized backer who went on to be named 1st Team All-Pro team five times.
For the second day in a row Wisconsin LB Chris Borland was one of the most active players on the field, seeing action both inside and outside. It appears as though this is going to be one of those classic battles between physical tools and the tape.
Borland is even drawing comparisons to Zach Thomas, who faced similar concerns when he was coming out of Texas Tech. Thomas slipped to the fifth round of the 1996 NFL Draft before going on to play thirteen years in the league, garnering 1st Team All-Pro honors five times.
NFL.com’s Mike Mayock called Borland “as fun a guy to watch on tape as I have ever seen” and praised his instincts and quickness. He also compared Borland to Thomas, but even referred to him as a “sawed-off” Luke Kuechly.
Borland is likely to fall to Day 3, but I expect the Bengals to take a hard look at him in the third round. They probably won’t take him there, but it’s hard to see him falling to them in the fourth round, but if he does, he’d be a slam-dunk of a pick at that point.