Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, has proven to many that he is one of the best defensive players from the 2012 draft class. He went from being a possible first round pick to undrafted in the 2012 NFL draft.
Coming out of Arizona State University as a junior, Burfict totaled 228 total tackles and 7 assists during his 3 seasons at ASU. Heading into his Junior season, he was thought to continue his on field dominance. He finished the season with only 69 total tackles (his lowest since his freshman year). Compare that to his 90 tackles as a sophomore, and it doesn’t look so well.That was only the beginning of the problems he was going to face as he entered his name into the 2012 NFL draft.
His stock took a hit when he ran into some off the field problems at ASU. Also, coming into the combine he allegedly tested positive for marijuana. During the interview process he also blamed his coaching staff for his struggles during his junior season. Many head coaches and GM’s were not very impressed with his combine process.
Fast forward to the NFL draft in April. He didn’t get a call during any of the 7 rounds. The Cincinnati Bengals, famous for giving players second chances, wanted Burfict on the team. This may have happened because Burfict reached out to head coach Marvin Lewis and told him why he would be a good free agent signing; Lewis listened.
Burfict played in all 16 of the Bengals games this year, and started in 14 of them. In the final game of the regular season, he recorded 18 total tackles and was nominated for the NFL Pepsi Max Rookie of the Week. He finished the regular season with 127 total tackles. Compared to other defensive players from the 2012 draft, he is 4th on the list in tackles behind potential Defensive Rookie of the Year, Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers.
Burfict has proved that he deserves to be in the NFL and that he is doing what is required to stay out of trouble, and on the field. He is quickly becoming a fan favorite in Cincinnati and will hopefully be a driving force on what is one of the top defenses in the NFL, for years to come.