Vontaze Burfict was touted at one time to be the next Ray Lewis. He was thought to be one of the top players in the draft before the start of the 2011 season after showing promising stats in his freshman and sophomore years at Arizona State.
Even the great DC Monte Kiffin is quoted as saying:
Monte Kiffin, USC's defensive coordinator, described Burfict this way: "He's unbelievable. He's big, fast, strong. He's got great talent. He's going to be playing on Sundays, there isn't any doubt about that."
He was touted as a top-five player in the 2011 draft, known for a nasty attitude and a hard-hitting ability. Burfict also showed big-play ability with four forced fumbles, three fumbles recovered and an interception during his three years in college; this went along with years of 69, 90 and 69 tackles.
However, despite his attitude and abilities, Burfict has been on a path to self-destructing his possible future career. First, there was the punch he threw in the fourth quarter of a game against Oregon State shown here:
He was later benched in that year for a pair of penalties against Stanford. Paola Bolvin recorded it best:
With Stanford at the ASU 35-yard line, Luck completed a short pass to Doug Baldwin, but a flag was thrown and controversial linebacker Burfict was tagged with a facemask. The replay suggests it was a questionable call. I get his frustration. But then he has to open his yapper and the official slaps him with an unsportsmanlike penalty.Vontaze Burfict punches opposing player vs. Oregon State
"Apparently Vontaze said something about not being a facemask," coach Dennis Erickson said.
Arguing with the refs is something frowned upon at all levels. The bad thing is, he didn't try to apologize for his actions or change. He's since punched teammates and been kicked out of practices, and while he has the potential to be a great player, he's showing an immaturity that teams won't want to handle.
He does come from beginnings that weren't the best, having accidentally set his house on fire at three years old, being involved in a horrific car accident at 13 that should have left no one alive and growing up around gangs when he grew up with his single mother.
The unfortunate thing about Burfict is he truly loves football and the hitting behind the game. He's just always been too rough and he doesn't have an off switch. His lack of self control will lead to people around him not just getting hurt, but more incidents like the Stanford game where you could attribute them gaining an extra 30 yards on the final drive purely to Burfict's lack of self discipline.
Then there is the combine that he bombed. People thought he would come in and show the natural speed he has on the field in his workouts, but he failed to impress with a 5.09 electronic timed 40-yard dash and only a 30" vertical. Not to mention the horrible reaction to his interviews.
CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman heard from one of the scouts at the combine:
"I wouldn't touch him," said one scout. "He does have some talent, but he is so undisciplined on and off the field. The guy is completely out of control. There's no way you could trust him. I can't believe they (ASU coaching staff) didn't cut him loose."
Would you take Vontaze Burfict on your team?
If this is the way scouts are looking at him, it's hard to believe that there are teams that even have him on their boards. Burfict fits in with what some teams call a "black dot" system, where they would completely take him off of their boards.
And then Burfict bombs his pro day on top of all of the mounting evidence against him. According to Tony Pauline:
Word on Vontaze Burfict; not good in position drills (I'm watering that down)...as one scout told me "I actually felt bad for him"
Vontaze Burfict sounds like the ideal prospect as a 6'1", 248-pound middle linebacker who can cover and hit, but when you account for the issues on and off the field he has, does it even seem worth it to draft him?
UPDATE: As of April 24, 2012, knowledge of a failed marijuana test at the combine circulated. This is just another chapter in the "What Not to Do" lesson that was Vontaze Burfict.