NFL Draft: Chris Borland

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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A wrap-up of the Green Bay Packers' draft. Click here for a full list of Packers draftees.

[+] EnlargeJared Abbrederis
Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsReceiver Jared Abbrederis is the first Wisconsin player drafted by the Packers since guard Bill Ferrario (fourth round) in 2001.
Best move: Even though much of the pre-draft focus was on improving the defense -- something general manager Ted Thompson did by taking Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round (No. 21 overall) -- he did not ignore the other side of the ball. He wisely added depth to the receiving core with the highly productive Davante Adams of Fresno State in the second round (No. 53) and later local product Jared Abbrederis of Wisconsin in the fifth round (No. 176), and the small-school Jeff Janis from Saginaw Valley State in the seventh (No. 236). He then took a shot with developmental tight end Richard Rodgers of Cal in the third round (No. 98) and brought in competition for the starting center job with Corey Linsley of Ohio State in the fifth round (No. 161).

Riskiest move: Defensive tackle Khyri Thornton. Taking him in the third round (No. 85 overall) seemed too high. Even he didn't think he would be drafted on Day 2. "Khyri was an interesting one, kind of came up later in the process," said Packers director of college scouting Brian Gutekunst. "But he had so much twitch, so much upside, it was something we couldn't pass on. The way he's able to run, a 4.9 guy for a 312-pound man, the kid can run. He's got a lot of upside. We felt fortunate to get him." You could also call Baylor cornerback Demetri Goodson a risk, although it's less of one in the sixth round (No. 197). Goodson will turn 25 years old next month and was out of football for five years. He played three seasons of basketball at Gonzaga before he transferred to Baylor in 2011 and played three years of football.

Most surprising move: For the first time in 10 drafts as the Packers general manager, Thompson did not make a single trade. He picked at his spot all nine times. By the time the draft reached the fifth round, it became clear this was going to be a different draft strategy for Thompson. He had never before made it that far into a draft without making a trade. Perhaps equally surprising was the fact that he picked a player from the University of Wisconsin -- and it wasn't linebacker Chris Borland, a player many thought might interest the Packers. Instead, he took Abbrederis, making him the first UW player drafted by the Packers since guard Bill Ferrario (fourth round) in 2001.

File it away: Next year, when Thompson tells you he doesn't draft for need, remember this: Among his first six picks were a safety (Clinton-Dix), a receiver (Adams), a tight end (Rodgers) and a center (Linsley). Not coincidentally, the Packers had an opening for a starting free safety, lost a receiver (James Jones) and a center (Evan Dietrich-Smith) in free agency, and have not re-signed last year’s starting tight end (Jermichael Finley).
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Some final thoughts from Day 2 of the draft:

Standing Pat: Once known as Trader Ted, Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson has not made a single trade in the first two days of the draft. Said Thompson: "There were phone calls like there always are. There were offers made by us a few teams, by the opposing teams a few times and it was more 'we'll see when it gets to our pick or we'll see when it gets to their pick,' and it just never worked out."

Third-round reaches: While there should have been little to quibble with when it came to Thompson's first two picks -- safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round and receiver Davante Adams in the second -- his third-round picks appeared to be reaches based on general evaluations and even where they expected to be picked. Southern Miss defensive tackle Khyri Thornton was ranked as the 17th-best defensive tackle yet he was the ninth one taken. Said Thorton, who went 85th overall: "To be honest with you I really didn't have high expectations of going high in the draft." Cal tight end Richard Rodgers, who went to the Packers at No. 98, appears to be a bit of a project, having switched from tight end to receiver at Cal before leaving school early.

Thornton's journey: In Thornton's final two years at Southern Miss, the team won only one game -- and he missed that lone victory because of an injury. And that's only part of Thornton's collegiate story. He first committed to Florida State but did not qualify academically. Then, he enrolled at South Florida, which also denied him eligibility. "It was frustrating," the 24-year-old Thornton said. "Learned about college football."

"The Play": Rodgers' father took part in one of the most famous plays in college football history -- the five-lateral kickoff return for a touchdown at the end of the 1982 Cal-Stanford game -- and he has seen it countless times. But never in the company of his dad, who made two of the laterals. "I actually don't think I've ever watched 'The Play' with my dad sitting next to me," the younger Rodgers said.

Finley's future: Thompson insisted the decision to draft Rodgers was not an indication that team has moved on from free agent Jermichael Finley, who still hasn't been cleared to return from his neck injury. "I don't necessarily think the two are tied at all," Thompson said. "We were just trying to pick a good player."

Looking ahead: The Packers still haven't addressed two of their bigger needs entering the draft -- inside linebacker and center. Thompson watched the top center, Colorado State's Weston Richburg, come off the board nine picks before the Packers' second-round selection. In the third round, he saw Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland go eight before the Packers picked Thornton. Even with five picks in rounds 4-7 on Saturday, the chances of finding someone who could compete for a starting job at either spot are minimal.

Analyzing McShay mock 4.0: Colts 

April, 10, 2014
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ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay posted his 2014 mock draft Insider earlier on Thursday.

As you’ve been reminded every time you hear the name “Trent Richardson,” the Indianapolis Colts do not have a first-round pick because of their trade with Cleveland to acquire the running back last September.

Analyzing Kiper 3.0: Broncos

March, 13, 2014
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Make it three-for-three for the Denver Broncos.

In three mock drafts so far, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has had the Broncos looking for help on defense. In the first, in January, it was Oregon State defensive end Scott Crichton and in the second, in February, it was Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby.

But with the Broncos having signed cornerback Aqib Talib and defensive end DeMarcus Ware in free agency this week, Kiper now predicted they'll address the linebacker position with Wisconsin's Chris Borland in his latest look at how the draft's first round Insider could shake out.

Borland's workout numbers don't measure up to some of the other prospects at the position -- he ran a 4.83 40-yard dash, for example, but the 5-foot-11½, 248-pound inside linebacker is all football player. His instincts are top-shelf and you can see him, play-after-play, knocking blockers off balance on his way to the ball carrier.

He has also shown the ability to drop into coverage as well at times and covers plenty of ground when he has to with good play speed.

Borland does have some injury history having missed two games in 2012 with a hamstring issue and was awarded a medical hardship in 2010 when he missed all but two games because of a left shoulder injury.

But he is a quality leader and his coaches have routinely praised his work ethic to scouts.
Allen/BorlandAP Photo/Damen JacksonWith a change to a 3-4 defense, Chris Borland (44) and Beau Allen (96) could see their stock rise.
New Wisconsin Badgers head coach Gary Andersen and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda have brought an aggressive 3-4 scheme to Madison from Utah State. The change is not a complete overhaul for Wisconsin. Last season, both the Aggies and Badgers were creative with personnel groupings most notably when they went to their pass rush packages. At Utah State, Aranda mixed in four-man fronts and could do so with more frequency as Badgers players get acclimated to their new roles early this year.

Still, there will be significant changes to Wisconsin's front seven that could get contributions from seven seniors. Those changes could have an impact on each of their NFL fortunes.

Change can hurt players who were recruited to play in another system. Players may not have the same kind of faith in a new coaching staff that may be looking to develop players with an eye toward the future. Whether the Badgers are buying in to Andersen's system remains to be seen but the change in scheme should help some of them boost their draft stock. No two Badgers could benefit more in 2013 than NT Beau Allen and LB Chris Borland.

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