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)
To say it has been a rough few days for Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict might be an understatement. Burfict has been considered by many as a potential first-round pick, but after his showing at the 2012 NFL Combine -- both on and off the field -- it's looking more and more likely that he will slide out of the top 32 picks.
Burfict's issues really began before he even arrived in Indianapolis. I'll let CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman explain why:
Over the weekend in Indy, I spoke to a few NFL scouts and assistants about some draft hopefuls. I'm not sure any player here sparked a worse reaction than Vontaze Burfict. Seems the Arizona State linebacker has gone from being plagued by yellow flags to eliciting red ones now.
Feldman talked to a scout who said that while Burfict does have talent, he has very little discipline on and off the field. The scout said Burfict "is completely out of control." I'm sure many think he is a perfect fit for the Detroit Lions because of his undisciplined nature, but the last thing they need is a player to enhance their negative reputation around the league. They also don't need a player who blames his poor play on others, which is exactly what Burfict did when he met with the media in Indy:
"I played average," Burfict explained to reporters in Indy. "I could've played better. That's what hurt me at times. The coaches kind of messed me up. I didn't know if I would start a game or be benched. It hurt me, but I tried to fight through it."
Burfict literally fought through it at one point when he got into a scrap with a teammate at Arizona State. Burfict discussed the incident and said he and a teammate took an argument into the locker room and one thing led to another and he took a swing after his teammate pushed him. Once again, rather than cop to making a mistake or having bad judgment, he deflected the blame to his teammate.
On the field, Burfict's stock continued to drop thanks to his 40-yard dash today. Burfict ran an official time of 5.09 seconds, which was by far the worst time for a linebacker (the next-slowest time was 4.97 seconds by Montana's Caleb McSurdy). By comparison, Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy, who weighs 60 pounds more than Burfict, ran a 5.08 40-yard dash.
Perhaps Burfict might be worth taking a look at for the Lions in the third round or later if his stock continues to tumble, but right now I don't see any way that he should be given a look with the 23rd overall pick. Not only is his character a major concern, but after today his athleticism is in question as well.