A final season of turmoil, weight issues, discipline issues, and general friction between Burflict and his coaches doesn't leave him in the most favorable position entering the draft, but talent alone should be enough for Burflict to be picked early.
He really excels as a pass rusher and inside tackler, where he can meet nearly any RB in the hole and provide a punishing blow that sends the ball carrier backwards.
He is savvy and plays instinctually, and he is able to read blocks well to get to the ball. In the right scheme with a support staff in place, Burflict has the capability to be a leading tackler in the NFL.
He is capable of being the physical inside presence for an NFL defense, but not many coaches are going to have the patience to deal with personal foul penalties like the coaches did at ASU where, frankly, Burflict was the only option inside.
He has put on weight within the last year that has really slowed him down, and while that size has boded well for players like Brandon Spikes of New England, it has really inhibited Burflict's athleticism and ability to get sideline to sideline."
Erickson and his coaches wasted no time getting the California native on the field. He appeared in every game, starting nine, in 2009 making 69 tackles, seven for loss, and two sacks. His big hits resulted in two fumbles and five pass break-ups. There was no sophomore slump for Burfict, as league coaches named him second-team all-conference and The Sporting News the conference's Defensive MVP in 2010. He was credited with 90 tackles, 8.5 TFL, two forced fumbles and three pass deflections on the year.
The tenacity he shows on the field over the last two years has come with a price: several personal foul penalties have prevented his teammates from getting off the field, sometimes in crucial situations. If his mental maturity catches up with his physical maturity in 2011, however, NFL teams will be falling over themselves to bring his strength and downhill aggression into the middle of their defense.
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.
Is a violent tackler with good length for his size and has the balance and quickness to range off his frame in space and tackle consistently both in the hole and in the open field. Showcases the power and snap from his upper body to take on blocks on contact. When he stays low and extends his arms can be violent on contact when looking to shed.
However, when he's not into the game mentally gets upright and can be overwhelmed and ridden out of the play. Instincts are a bit inconsistent. Will under run plays at times trying to create in the backfield, showcasing the ability to find the ball inside, read his run keys and play off opposing linemen's proper shoulder.
However, at times just plays out of control and looks to be guessing which gap to shoot as opposed to reading his keys inside taking himself out of big plays.
Exhibits natural bend and pretty impressive fluidity for his size when asked to get out of his breaks. Can bend at the knees, but likes to pop upright in his drop and get a bit narrow in his base. This takes away initially from his burst and quickness changing directions in the pass game. However, he's fluid when asked to open up his hips and redirect.
And once he gets his feet under him showcases impressive closing burst and range into contact. Can intimidate in the secondary and will create collisions on contact. Nevertheless, lacks a great feel in zone coverage.
Doesn't get many proactive jumps on the football. Is a bit slow to recognize receivers crossing his face, doesn't get many early jumps on the football and is more of a reactive zone player.
Might be best suited to play outside at the next level where he can have more simplified reads. Exhibits some savvy as a blitzer, times up the snap count well and can drop his pad level when trying to fight under blockers. However, isn't real sudden when trying to slip.
Has some on the field character concerns. Plays the game with a real passion and exhibits impressive fire. However, gets out of control at times and really struggles to handle his emotions.
Takes some bad penalties on personal fouls and lets the penalties effect his performance as well. Seems to lose interest at times when things aren't going his way and it takes the edge off his game.
Impression: A talent with natural pop on contact, can hold the point of attack and for his size exhibits "plus" range and fluidity. Isn't a guy who I could trust as a starting 43 mike as he needs to stay in control of his emotions and make the defensive calls. Needs to be put in a good locker room with a vet next to him to help him learn to be a professional. If he can overcome his struggles on the field emotionally, he's got the talent to be a Pro Bowl caliber linebacker."
Rare breed who embodies a downhill thumper with sideline-to-sideline range and explosive, violent striking ability.
Very instinctive and is quick to read and react. Brings swagger and plays with an old-school mentality — seeks to intimidate and has a visible mean streak.
Highly intense, competitive, vocal and emotional. Immature and has yet to master discipline and self-control, as evidenced by the fact he’s averaged a personal foul every other game.
Defensive tone setter with Pro Bowl ability inside a 3-4 or 4-3 who would be best served landing in a locker room with a strong veteran presence."
However, I was equally impressed with his quickness and flow to the football. His athletic ability is combined with a high motor and drive to make plays. He plays with a nastiness that results in big hits and Burfict always being around the football. While Burfict has a ton of strengths, he also has a few areas that need improvement.
Like most college football players, Burfict struggles with sound tackling technique. He often leads with his head and throws his shoulder into the ball carrier not wrapping up. He also needs to do a better job stacking and shedding. For a player of his size, Burfict looks to avoid blockers too often rather than attacking and shedding.
There just isn't many linebackers with his skill set which will make him an attractive player come next April. Obviously, Burfict needs to build on his success but all signs point to him being an early selection.
Bold Statement: Vontaze Burfict will be a top 10 selection.
Games Viewed: Oregon ('10), Arizona ('10), Stanford ('10)
- Burfict is a rare player with excellent size and quickness
- He has great bulk and overall build, just an intimidating presence
- His quickness allows him to be a sideline to sideline player
- Offensive players rarely out run his angles
- He has good recognition and quickly flows to the football
- His post snap diagnosis is quick and gives him a good jump
- Burfict is a tenacious player that is always in pursuit of the football
- When he reaches the ball career he delivers a punishing hit
- The best way to describe Burfict is explosive
- He has great closing speed and gets up on the ball carrier quick
- Against Oregon, he looked very quick despite the speed on Oregon's offense
- Burfict has good blitz timing and savvy
- His lateral quickness and suddenness allows him to avoid blocks and slip past blockers
- He is a 4 down player providing good special team play
- Burfict needs to improve his tackling as he often leads with his head and doesn't wrap up
- He is a little flat in coverage and needs to gain more depth
- I would like to see him take on blockers more and use his size and strength to stack and shed"
Also a surprisingly good athlete who changes direction very well, is light on his feet and is very difficult to block, although he will play too tall at times and can struggle to disengage once he's blocked; will also try and jump around blocks on occasion rather than stack and shed;
Generally reads the play well and has sideline-to-sideline range, but can be fooled by play action and misdirection plays; fierce hitter who takes good angles and literally explodes into tackles, although he doesn’t always wrap up when going for the big hit;
Has fluid hips and can turn and run in coverage, but is not necessarily that instinctive in coverage and could do a better job reading keys; plays with a real edge, but has too often been undisciplined on the field resulting in unnecessary personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and was benched for awhile this past season."
Plays with a great mix of speed, power and athleticism... Likes to hit, plays with good lower-body explosion, drives through tackles to finish off ball carriers... Very intense player, does not shy away from contact, plays with a very high motor...
Scrapes pretty well through traffic, uses athleticism and quickness to get around blockers while keeping eyes on ball carrier... Is instinctive in most aspects of the position, maintains gap responsibilities and doesn't often bite on play action...
Plays well in short zone coverage, but does not look as comfortable playing man-to-man, appears athletic enough to play the middle of the field in a Tampa-2 scheme... Is versatile enough to play in multiple schemes in the NFL, has a high ceiling if he can keep his head on straight.
Negatives -- Does not always wrap up well when tackling, sometimes relies on lowering shoulder to deliver crushing blow, but will miss tackles by not breaking down and playing with more control...
Lack of mental discipline can be apparent at times, maturity level has been questioned in the past, was in head coach Dennis Erickson's doghouse all season and didn't see the field for long periods of time due to lack of discipline and mental toughness... Plays a bit high, has a high center of gravity, which leaves him susceptible to cut blocks...
Still a little raw in several areas, overall technique can be sloppy at times, needs to play with more control; his play coincides with his emotions and it gets him in trouble... Tackles with his head down a little too often, will miss tackles in the open field when he doesn't keep his head up...
Awareness in coverage can improve, pays a lot of attention the action in front of him but can miss receivers working the zone behind him...
Reportedly, teammate Brandon Magee had always made sure Burfict was properly positioned on the field and made him aware of assignments and Magee underwent surgery for a ruptured Achilles in August and missed the entire season."
This Arizona State product really excels at tackling and working his way through traffic to find the ball-carrier. At 6'3" and 250, he can take on blockers, disengage, and work up the middle.
He has enough speed and lateral quickness to be effective in underneath zone coverage. However, he will need to improve in man-to-man coverage, whether it's tracking a tight end over the middle or spilling into the flats to get after running backs.
NFL coaches will need to work on his technique since he too often falls back on his instincts and athleticism. Whether it be pass coverage, footwork in zones or if he is tackling, he'll need to be mindful he is playing under control. In the past he struggled with keeping a level-head on the field; showing issues keeping emotions in check.
Burfict will be a useful NFL pro and will nicely fit in a defense that needs their inside linebackers to show multiple looks. He can do it all, but will need coaching up to remain disciplined to his assignments."