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You better believe that Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict, often projected as first-round talent, is joining the Cincinnati Bengals with a chip on his shoulder. Despite falling out of the 2012 NFL draft without his name being called, largely because of his own doing, Burfict tells the State Press that believes he's one of the top prospects of this year's NFL class.
The Bengals reportedly signed Burfict at the opening of Saturday night's undrafted free agency period, and he feels blessed to have an NFL team.
"I didn’t get drafted like I wanted to, but I’m blessed to be on an NFL team," Burfict said.
As a player that will compete for a roster spot, Burfict plans to study under the Bengals starting middle linebacker, Rey Maualuga.
"I’m going to go in the first week and take notes of what he’s doing," the Corona, Calif., product said. "I’m going to perfect my style of football. Hopefully, I’m either playing beside him, backing up or I’m starting. Either way, I’m happy to be on the team."
Ultimately, signing Burfict makes sense.
Since he's an undrafted free agent, the Bengals have no true connection to keep him (not a draft pick, limited money to lose), but the reward compared to the initial investment could be substantial. Granted there's questions that need to be answered, such as can he keep his head straight? But Marvin Lewis could be that coach that straightens him out.
"I feel comfortable being coached by him," Burfict said of Marvin Lewis. "I know that I’m a first, second round pick and the Bengals got a steal in the draft because nobody drafted me."
If he resumes the production that concluded high projections by draft experts, then Cincinnati may have have stole a future starting linebacker for virtually no cost. And if he doesn't, the team releases him without much reason to look back.