Vontaze Burfict-All American (via thereaper)
RaiderDamus is back again for a very distant look ahead to the Raiders' 2012 draft! Last time I profiled Cliff Harris, and in the comments many of you suggested I take a look at linebackers- particularly Vontaze Burfict. I have been a fan of his ever since he spurned USC on National Signing Day to choose Arizona State instead, and he has shown himself to be worth all the hype. He is the most highly rated prospect ever to choose ASU and has played up to that standard. After the jump, a more complete writeup!
Vontaze Burfict is the most explosive, aggressive linebacker in college football. He has excellent size (6'3", 250 lbs) and speed (4.6 40) and a tremendous mean streak. He plays as fast as he is, although he has reined it in of late because his aggressive play was resulting in costly personal foul penalties and limiting his effectiveness. He is a tremendous tackler, a force against the run and displays the cover skills necessary to hang with runningbacks and tight ends in passing situations. He is truly the complete package at MLB, with some comparing him to Ray Lewis. He has that type of potential.
There are some knocks on Burfict from a Raiders standpoint. First, he plays MLB which is currently occupied by Rolando McClain. However, his size and speed are similar to what we see in most top OLB prospects, and in fact is faster than nearly all upcoming OLB draftees with one notable exception, Zach Brown of North Carolina. He could easily be moved to OLB in a 4-3 scheme like the Raiders run. He has the superior athleticism necessary to make that positional switch.
Burfict plays with a nasty disposition. This has gotten him in trouble in the past, but this season he has been very well behaved and has been playing with a clear head and solid consistency. If he upped his intensity he may record more tackles and make a bigger impact, but as a player he is learning to balance his explosiveness with his effectiveness. So far it has been paying off, as he recorded his first interception against USC and completely changed the flow of that game, and recorded 11 tackles against Illinois.
However, he is SO very good and so many teams (cough Eagles cough) need linebacker help, I cannot see Burfict falling past #15. That being said, were the Raiders in a position to trade up for him without giving too much, or if he miraculously fell to wherever they pick OR if the Raiders somehow choke the rest of the season and miss the playoffs, Burfict would shore up our run defense and lock down any of our linebacker positions for years to come. He would provide depth for McClain at MLB and would be an upgrade over Groves or Moss at OLB.