TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 24: Vontaze Burfict #7 of the Arizona State Sun Devils points and yells at quarterback Matt Barkley #7 of the University of Southern California Trojans just prior to a play at Sun Devil Stadium on September 24, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
According to an ASU football writer for the Arizona State University website the StatePress.com, linebacker Vontaze Burfict is heading to Cincinnati. At one point viewed as a first-round prospect just a few months ago, Burfict, who Mike Mayock once called an "undraftable kid", has dealt with a series of off-the-field issues, but strung together horrible performances at the NFL Combine and Arizona State's Pro Day.
ESPN's Scout Inc rated him as the ninth-best inside linebacker, praising his exceptional production, size and durability, but extremely good at third down capabilities:
"Very good athlete for size. Shows good speed and change-of-direction skills when he's playing with leverage and staying balanced. Is light on his feet. An intimidating presence over the middle of the field. Has very good burst and power when turned loose on the blitz. However, he can be late diagnosing pass. Sells out versus run at times and struggles to gather himself to change directions on play-action. Is consistently a quarter-count late feeling receivers cross into his zone. Is a wildcard with gap-discipline as a rusher. Like every aspect of his game, he has big play ability in the passing game that few at his position possess, but he cannot be trusted."
Despite all of that, NFL.com draft page writes of the linebacker:
Burfict was a fairly inconsistent college player. He was the defensive freshman of the year in the Pac-12, became one of the top linebackers in the country as a sophomore, then fell off as a junior. After a final season marked by weight problems, discipline issues and friction with his coaches, he heads into the draft in a less-than-favorable position. However, based on his talent alone, he should still be picked relatively early.
Burfict has been a fierce, punishing competitor. Bringing a serious physical presence, he would likely upgrade most any defense in the NFL. When he is in shape, Burfict can fly from sideline to sideline, and can cover tight ends sufficiently in the pass game. He really excels as a pass rusher and inside tackler, with his ability to meet running backs in the hole and provide a punishing blow. He is savvy, has good instincts and can read blocks well enough to get to the ball. In the right scheme, and with the right support staff in place, Burfict could be a leading tackler in the NFL.
You would be hard-pressed to find a player whose draft status was more negatively affected by discipline issues. He can be a physical inside presence in the NFL, but not many pro coaches are going to put up with personal foul penalties like the coaches at Arizona State, who, frankly, did not have any other options inside. Burfict was also slowed by extra weight; though NFL players like the Patriots’ Brandon Spikes have thrived while playing at a bigger size, Burfict’s athleticism has really been inhibited.