Vontaze Burfict’s size, strength, speed, and athleticism combined with a relentless tenacity for tackling make him the ultimate intimidator. Burfict has good instincts and a reaction time that are impressive for his size. He is a ferocious tackler who can go sideline-to-sideline in a short amount of time and takes deep angles to avoid touchdowns. Against the run he is a fast, powerful between-the-tackles hitter who is agile enough to burst through gaps into the backfield. Burfict avoids blocks in space with tremendous elusiveness, and uses strong hands to disengage and shed blocks to reach ball carriers. He anchors low to stop backs in the tracks and plays through the whistle.
He has the perfect balance with size and strength with his upper and lower body and can take down runners by the leg with a swipe of his arm. He anchors quickly in piles at the goal line to prevent forward progress. Burfict was used as a blitzer up the middle and off the edge exploding off the line and putting constant pressure on the Quarterback or ball carrier. Burfict is a versatile ILB whose athleticism, agility, and speed allow him to move fluidly around the field in zone coverage. He has flexible hips and light feet that allow him to change direction quickly in pursuit and then square up to tackle. In man coverage, Burfict has the speed and athleticism to keep up with tight ends and running backs.
Burfict’s stamina has to be questioned at times as he gives up on pass plays before they are over. At times his technique appears lazy; tackling high or taking improper angles. Although he is strong enough to bring down college backs, he may struggle against NFL RBs who won’t be easily stopped with a shoulder tackle. He has a tendency to lower his head which has gotten him several penalty flags over his collegiate career. Burfict is sometimes too aggressive – missing tackles trying to go in for the kill shot. He has shown a lack of discipline being easily baited by other teams to let his temper get the best of him.
- ILB, Arizona
- Ht: 6’3”
- Wt: 250
- 40: 4.6
For all the incredible natural ability Vontaze Burfict has, most people see only the discipline issues. I believe most of his red flags stem from not being coached to his potential. With a solid defensive minded head coach and veteran linebackers honing his raw talent and gifted athleticism, his ceiling is immeasurable. Many teams will be scared away because of “character concerns” but any team with a focus on LBs/defense who drafts him beyond the mid-second round may be getting a steal in the long run – Burfict was a few yellow flags and a benching away from being the first linebacker taken overall. In 2011 he registered 69 total tackles (40 solo), 7 TFL, 5 INTs, 3 PBUs and an interception.
Dory LeBlanc, co-hosts NFL Draft Cheat Sheet on RotoRadio and freelances for BourbonMeyer.com. Not just a college sports enthusiast, Dory is also a fan of NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB. Born outside Philly, she moved to Tampa, and now resides in Illinois, giving her a broad perspective on the sporting world. You may email Dory at email@example.com or follow her on twitter @DoryLeBlanc