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.
"I wouldn't touch him," said one scout. "He does have some talent, but he is so undisciplined on and off the field. The guy is completely out of control. There's no way you could trust him. I can't believe they (ASU coaching staff) didn't cut him loose."
Burfict, who measured in at 6-feet-3, 248 pounds (about 12 under his playing weight this season, he said), has received a lot of hype over his college career. Much of it stemmed from some of his thunderous hits, but it was his recklessness that also dogged him and the Sun Devils from his first season at ASU to his last. He was selected to some all-American teams as a sophomore in 2010, but didn't even earn All-Pac-12 honors in 2011 before he opted to enter the draft as a junior, when he made just 69 tackles on a team that many thought would win at least 10 games but instead finished just 6-7.
“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.”
NFL personnel folks cringe when they hear a player publicly put some of the blame on his coaches.
"You just scratch your head at some of the knucklehead things he does on tape," said one NFL coach. "It was the same thing over and over and over again with him. He seemed to personify why that team always seemed to underachieve."
One of things Burfict was asked about by the media in Indy was his role in a rumored locker-room fight with an ASU wideout. Burfict confirmed the incident, adding that he wished it never happened.
“We're not supposed to hit each other in seven-on-seven,” Burfict said. “We had an argument, and we brought it into the locker room. We started chattering about it. He started rough-housing me. He pushed me, and my first instinct was to swing. And everyone thinks I’m the bad guy because my first instinct was to swing on the guy.”
The draft is always full of "boom-or-bust" guys. That's Burfict, although because he's had so many issues, he'll probably be less of a risk since few people project him as such a high draft pick any more.