At times Vontaze Burfict can be a one man wrecking crew. He has such natural ability it is scary. In his two years in Tempe he has made a whole film room full of highlight reel plays. But he is a personal foul machine, his motor runs hot and cold, his maturity is questionable and at times he lacks any sort of self-control. All this said he might well have the highest upside out of a LB since Patrick Willis. He has already been compared favourably to the great Ray Lewis and I don't think this is an unfair comparison.
Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State University
NFL Player Comparison:
Ray Lewis: Both players have the very unique ability to inspire the players around them. From the moment he stepped on the pitch Burfict looked like a leader. Lewis had some "control" issues when he came out of college but with coaching and maturity has turned into a Hall of Famer. If Burfict is willing to work hard at the next level I can see him being the inspirational linebacker that Lewis is. They both posses the very rare ability to single handily blow up a play.
- Burfict is the highest ranked football prospect to ever sign a letter of intent to attend ASU. ESPN had him as the number 16 player in the country and Rivals as the Number 9 prospect. He was recruited by every major program in the country and on signing day elected to attend ASU ahead of perennial Pac-10 powerhouse USC. Started 9 of 12 games in 2009 as a true freshman and became the incumbent at middle linebacker spot in the fourth game of the season. Earned Pac-10 Defensive Freshman of the Year award as well as being selected to all the Freshman All-American Teams. In 2010 as a sophomore continued to develop and led the team with 90 tackles. He was selected by The Sporting News as the Pac-10s Defensive MVP and a First-Team All American.
Other Potential 1st Round LBs:
- Linebackers are no longer the premium position they were 10-15 years ago and unless you can rush the passer like Von Miller it is very tough to go much higher than the Top 15. All three players have a shot if they play well this year. Burfict won't be the safest prospect but he has the highest upside.
Projected Draft Status: Top 20
- Burfict will have to clean up his personal fouls this year otherwise I can't see him going anywhere near the top 10. But he has such an elite blend of athleticism, instincts and power and still very raw. With the right coaching he has the potential to be as good a linebacker since Patrick Willis.
- 150 tackles, 3 FF, 15.5 TFL and 2 sacks.
- Highlight #1: Vontaze Burfict v Arizona
- Highlight #2: Vontaze Burfict v California
- Highlight #3: NFL draft analysis: great video showing positives and negatives
- There are plays where Burfict looks like the next great LB. I have seen him blow up ball carriers in the backfield, react and disrupt screen passes, time blitz so well he gets to the QB before they finish their drop and punish receivers for coming over the middle.
- He is still only 20 years old with just 2 years of experience behind him. Even as a freshman he looked like the leader of the ASU defence and I love his nasty demeanour. He needs to mature and cut out the ridiculous penalties from his game.
- He will be a very polarising prospect when he declares. Teams know they can get inside his head and it is vital he learns to ignore everything around him and focus purely on being a great football player. I can't wait to watch him in 2011 and see how he develops.