- The Republic had a scheduled interview with Burfict on Wednesday, but a representative from his agent's office called to postpone. It does appear, however, that he spoke with Aaron Wilson of Scout.com. According to Wilson's report, Burfict didn't confirm or deny the failed drug-test report, but he did admit to using marijuana in the past. "I talked to some teams, and I told them I had smoked marijuana before," Burfict said. "It's not like I'm the only person that has ever done that." Asked if he still smokes marijuana, Burfict told Wilson: "No, of course not." He insists he has changed over the past few months. "I almost have a six-pack now," Burfict said. "The team that drafts me will see that my work ethic isn't questionable at all. I realize how much I really want this for my life. If I could have changed anything when I was in college, I would have been eating healthier. Now, I'm eating fish, chicken, broccoli. My endurance is much better. I usually run a mile each morning. "The team that picks me is going to get a leader on and off the field. I'm going to be a role model for the kids in the community. If teams pass on me, they're going to have to face me for the next 10 years. If they don't want me, they're going to miss out. I definitely feel like my best football is ahead of me." - Doug Haller, The Arizona Republic
Full *Vontaze Burfict News Wire
Burfict rhymes with perfect, but that is only a coincidence. When he graduated from Centennial High School in California, Burfict was touted as the best prep middle linebacker in the country.
It has been mostly downhill since then.
Burfict has displayed the ability of a first-round prospect, but as an overall package some teams say they won't draft him, period. On the field he flashes excellent instinct and ferocity. He diagnoses and blows up plays with brutish hits, against the run and even as a pass rusher. But he committed so many unnecessary and ill-timed penalties that he was actually kept off the field at times in college. He reportedly even punched a smaller teammate in the locker room.
Last year Burfict led ASU with 68 tackles, but when he failed to make even the conference honorable mention list it was thought that his bad conduct was the reason. At the Combine, scouts wanted questions answered about his maturity and athleticism. He had all the wrong answers. He blamed ASU coaches for his inconsistent 2011 season and then he flopped in workouts, including an unofficial 40-yard time of 5.03 seconds, slowest among linebackers. To be clear, he has the ability to play. It will be interesting to see who gives him a chance and if/how he takes advantage of it.
Read & React: Brings good instincts to the middle of a defense, but his reaction time is what stands out for a player his size. Combining that reaction time with his speed results in crushing hits. A step late recognizing screens at times and can be fooled by misdirection in the offensive line because he relies on his keys.
Run defense: Between-the-tackles thumper with mike linebacker upper and lower-body builds, but also agile and quick enough to get through gaps to make plays in the backfield. Avoids lineman blocks in space with quickness, strong hands, and even a dip move, though he lines up seven yards off the line to see them coming. Also strong enough to anchor against lineman blocks; could be more consistent shedding to reach ballcarrier as he runs by.
Pass defense: Agile enough to attack throws in front of him when in zone, can make the big hit which separates the ball from his man. Taken out in nickel packages, though, as he lacks the suddenness to get a deep drop or handle jerk routes of quicker slot receivers. Must read the quarterback's eyes to jump and affect passing lanes if not getting home on the blitz.
Tackling: Explosive tackler who gets low to stop backs in their tracks. Plays like a downhill missile on most snaps, making huge hits that result in turnovers. Also brings down backs by their leg if slipping down during the tackle. Anchors quickly after inserting himself into a pile to prevent forward pushes. Capable of reaching either sideline on a given play, taking deep angles when needed to prevent the touchdown. Gets low to shoulder down college backs, but NFL ballcarriers may avoid those tackles. Misses some tackles when trying to intimidate with a lowered helmet or shoulder instead of wrapping up.
Pass Rush/Blitz: Used as a blitzer off the edge and up the middle, showing a lot of potential by pressuring quarterbacks into throws but rarely getting home (zero sacks in 2010). Explodes from his stance but lacks a variety of moves and does not use his hands to beat initial block. Athletic enough to jump over running back cut pass pro blocks, but should be able to bully them instead.
Intangibles: His utter lack of discipline is a major concern for scouts; draws too many personal foul flags for late hits and constantly talks with officials and opponents. Has reportedly matured during over the past year, becoming a vocal leader on the field and in the locker room. Removed from starting line-up for one game in 2010 for head-butting Oregon State QB Ryan Katz. Stamina could be improved.