Vontaze Burfict was considered a first round pick and the best linebacker in his class at one point in time. When the draft rolled around, Burfict wound up not getting drafted and signing with the Cincinnati Bengals. Off-field concerns and issues with his discipline and work ethic arose throughout the 2011-12 season, and Burfict appeared to be a longshot to even make an NFL roster just a month ago.
But now, according to Bengals.com writer Geoff Hobson, Burfict is turning heads and at least surprising some people.
I Think I Believe that rookie free-agent middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict is going to be one of the bigger preseason stories in the NFL. Silly me. I never thought he’d make it to training camp, but if he keeps convincing the coaches he deserves a shot with his first two impressive weeks on the field, he may do more than make it to camp.
Or “The Devil,” as linebackers coach Paul Guenther likes to call Burfict, and don’t read anything into that. That’s short for his Arizona State Sun Devils. Guenther has been impressed with Burfict’s ability to handle the calls as well as his movement. Guenther and the coaches have put Burfict’s bad 2011 tape out of their minds and have started from scratch with his 2010 tape, which they say is very good.
Certainly this will be something to watch as the offseason progresses. Vontaze Burfict has a real shot of making this roster with some depth issues at the linebacker positions. The only Bengals’ backups who were even drafted are Rod Muckelroy and last year’s third round pick Dontay Moch, who faces a suspension to start the season.
This Bengals team is very deep already, and if Burfict can emerge from what looks like on paper the best draft class in the NFL as an undrafted free agent, this team will truly have an embarrassment of young riches. I hope Burfict does well for Cincinnati, and it would be great to see him crack the rotation this year.