This pick may come as somewhat of a shocker after Vontaze Burfict’s tumultuous 2011 season. Coming into the year, Burfict was regarded as one of the best, if not the best, linebacker in all of college football. Known for his violent hits and aggressive play, Burfict was expected to be a high first round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. But of course, that all changed.
He led the nation in personal foul penalties in 2011 while playing for then head coach Erik Dickerson. But after several much publicized mental breakdowns on the field and in the locker room Burfict struggled to get back into the good graces of his coaches and teammates. Soon after, Burfict began sliding down draft boards and needed a good performance at the Combine to stablize his draft stock.
But to make matters worse, the NFL Combine didn’t do Burfict any favors. After a horrible performance in nearly every drill he went through at Indy and a less than convincing interview process with prospective NFL teams, the week long evaluation process sealed Burfict’s fate as a Day-3 draft prospect (if drafted at all).
Burfict refused to hold his actions accountable and is on record as blaming his coaches for his poor 2011 performance. As far as his uncontrolled emotions on the field, Burfict simply claims that he hates to lose.
But what scares off many scouts and GM’s could be what makes Burfict a dominant NFL player. At 6’3”, and 248-pounds Burfict has all the physical skills that NFL scouts love. Though he had an awful performance at the combine the film doesn’t lie. And if it did Burfinct is the kind of guy that would punch it in the face for doing so.
Burfict possesses a Ray Lewis type aggression and coincidentally Lewis is the player Burfict is most compared too.
The Chiefs have one Pro Bowl caliber ILB with Derrick Johnson and a solid contributor opposite of him in Jovan Belcher. Though Belcher has shown flashes against the run in short-yardage situations, he fails to make his presence felt on every down.
The Chiefs have a solid defense returning in 2012 but lack the emotional leader needed to instill fear into opposing offenses. With Burfict roaming the middle of Romeo Crennel’s defense, the dominant style of play we saw throughout the 1990’s could once again return to Arrowhead.
Though Burfinct in no way models the Chiefs “right 53” mantra, Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli has shown the willingness to take flyers on seemingly high-risk character guys with huge upside on the field (i.e. Jon Baldwin and Justin Houston).
With Burfinct’s addition to the linebackers depth chart in round four, the Chief’s hand would not be forced into playing Burfinct initially. When the Chiefs drafted Justin Houston in 2011, they already had a starter in Andy Studebaker they could rely upon. With Belcher being a solid player, the Chiefs have no need to push Burfinct into the starting lineup.
If Burfinct can control that temper on the field, he could be the best linebacker to come out of this entire draft. Houston forced himself into a starting role midway through the 2011 season, if he walks into Kansas City with the right mindset, Burfinct could do the same thing this year.
Most who know Burfinct say that the perception of him in the media is a bit misunderstood and that he merely loses himself in the violence and aggression that he plays with on the field.
But it could be that very large chip that resides on Burfinct’s shoulders that might turn him into a Pro Bowl caliber player for years to come in Kansas City.
Round 5: DT Nicolas Jean-Baptiste
Round 6: QB B.J. Coleman
Round 7: C Garth Gerhart
Round 7: T Chandler Burton
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Is the Arizona State product to much of a risk for the Chiefs in Round 4?
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