2012 NFL Draft: Baltimore Ravens Must Stay Away from Vontaze Burfict

James ReaganCorrespondent IIMarch 15, 2012

MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 18: John Clay #32 of the Wisconsin Badgers is tackled by the fask mask by Vontaze Burfict #7 of the Arizona State Sun Devils at Camp Randall Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Vontaze Burfict has plummeted down the NFL draft board thanks to his now-infamous combine performance.  Formerly thought to be a first-rounder, he could now easily go in the fourth or even the fifth round. 

Obviously, this changes things when it comes to the possibility of the Baltimore Ravens drafting Burfict. They won't be taking him with their first-round pick at No. 29 anymore. They could still possibly draft Burfict several rounds later, although to do so would be a risky move at best and a dangerous one at worst.

If Burfict has shown one thing during the combine, it's that his enormous physical talent is secondary to his overwhelming mental issues. Through the way he carried himself in drills and what he said during his interviews, he made it clear that there are valid reasons for people to be concerned about his character.

In his interview, Burfict blamed his history of committing personal fouls on both the officials and his overwhelming aggressiveness. He said that "I just love to hit" and "I hate to lose." 

Another infamous story from his ASU playing days involved him punching a teammate in the locker room. According to Burfict, "We had a argument and we brought it into the locker room...He pushed me and my first instinct was to swing and everyone thinks I'm a bad guy because my first instinct was to swing on the guy."

He also showed no loyalty to his ASU coaches and even took the time to throw them under the bus.

"The coaches kind of messed me up," he said. "I didn't know if I would start a game or if I would be benched."

For those who think actions speak louder than words, Burfict's actions at the combine weren't pretty at all. His 40 yard times of 4.93 and 5.10 were the worst of any linebacker prospect. Burfict also finished last among all linebackers in the broad jump and second-to-last in the vertical jump.

Burfict's character concerns could definitely be forgiven if he played at the high level that some scouts had pegged him at. But when he puts up mediocre numbers like he did at the combine, it turns him into the kind of headache that every NFL coach would want to avoid. 

Even before the combine, it had been a popular trend for experts to pick Burfict to end up with one of those defenses that had a strong locker room. That's why the Ravens were a popular destination for him several weeks ago and some writers even said he could be a perfect fit for the Ravens.

This was before the combine disaster, which really changes what the Ravens' plans could have been for drafting Burfict. Now at least they won't have to worry about blowing a first-round pick on him. The question is now whether he is worth being drafted in later rounds.

Both his interviews and his combine performance show a player who is out of control and unable to submit to authority. Even with proven leaders like Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs mentoring him, what reason is there for believing that Burfict will turn things around soon?

And since he's not afraid to hit people on his own time, do Ravens really want to worry about this guy flipping out and giving a fellow teammate a senseless injury?

There's just so much risk and very little reward with any team drafting the player that Burfict has become. The Ravens would be wise to just steer clear of Burfict and not have to deal with this undisciplined player. With his upside Burfict could be a possible successor to Lewis, however, he could just as easily and would more likely be a bust that haunts the Ravens for several years.

There are far better linebacker prospects in this year's draft, nearly all of which have better self control. Hopefully, the Ravens remember their mantra of "play like a Raven" and get a team player who fits into that mentality.

As of right now, that player is clearly not Vontaze Burfict.