Vontaze Burfict: Marvin Lewis and Bengals Wise to Gamble on Troubled LB

Eric BowmanFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2012

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 09:  Linebacker Vontaze Burfict #7 of the Arizona State Sun Devils warms up before the college football game against the Missouri Tigers at Sun Devil Stadium on September 9, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals took a shot in the dark by signing Vontaze Burfict, but since the reward far outweighs the risk, it's a good move by head coach Marvin Lewis and the rest of the franchise. 

According to the Arizona State Press, Lewis and the Bengals had their eyes on Burfict for awhile, even though his time leading up to the draft was less than stellar. 

It's no secret that Burfict did nothing to help his stock prior to the 2012 NFL draft. At the NFL Scouting Combine, Burfict ran a 5.09 40-yard-dash, and checked in at a pudgy 248 pounds. 

In addition to a poor showing at the combine, Burfict also failed a drug test, according to ProFootballTalk

The red flags were raised high above Burfict, and no matter where he ended up, teams needed to be wary about adding him to their roster. 

However, the Bengals didn't have to use a draft pick on him, and that is what's important here.

Cincinnati has nothing to lose in bringing in Burfict. The Bengals had a stellar draft, adding great depth to their young and talented roster. 

Had Burfict been drafted, most would have immediately said the team who selected him just wasted a pick. Since he wasn't drafted, nobody can criticize the Bengals for taking a chance on Burfict.

After all, the kid is extremely talented. He may character issues, but with extra discipline, Burfict can be fixed.

In the Arizona State Press report, Burfict stated that he believes Cincinnati got a steal. 

I feel comfortable being coached by [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.

We won't know for some time if he is indeed a steal for the Bengals, but the potential for him to shine bright at the next level is there. 

The 2011 season wasn't all that impressive for Burfict, but in 2010, Burfict recorded 90 tackles and was named an All-American and the Pac-10's Defensive MVP by The Sporting News, via The Arizona Republic

There's no denying his talents, but his attitude towards the game and others is in question. 

If the Bengals can straighten him out, they'll have a strong linebacker that will greatly help the team. But if they can't and he never amounts to much, Cincinnati can cut its losses and easily move on. 

Think of this as sort of an experiment by the Bengals. If it works out, then great, but if not, no harm, no foul. 

The probability of Burfict succeeding in the NFL depends on who you ask, but just about everyone will agree that he has the potential to be special if he shapes up, which is exactly why this was a brilliant decision by Lewis and the Bengals. 



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