Known as one of the most gifted LB’s in the draft, Vontaze Burfict possesses a unique blend of size, strength, athleticism and intensity that is welcomed to the MLB position in the NFL. As a rising junior it’s not a given if he’ll declare or not, but if he does, I truly believe he could be a mid to late 1st round LB who ends up being one of the best players from the whole draft. I do say mid to late 1st because some teams will pause about the on the field penalties and how he is a bit raw on some respects of his game. The one thing you can’t deny is his athleticism and the things that he does, that not many people can do. The one comparison I tend to bring up with Burfict is that he’s a lot like Ray Lewis, not in any way saying that he’ll be the next one, but when I watch him I see a guy who has ridiculous passion for the game, shows the intensity every play and gives his all and makes those outstanding plays. Andrew on the other hand see’s Burfict a bit like LaVar Arrington in how he likes to roam and make those plays, which is true he has shown that, but I do feel that some of the scheme allows him to have a bit of roaming ability especially the decisions on man coverage/ blitzing the QB.
Lets get to the positives about Vontaze though and it’s really down to 3 major things, closing speed, tackling ability and play recognition. When you watch a highlight film of Vontaze you can tell right away that he closes with the speed of a mack truck it feels like. In a few cut up films I’ve watched of him along with live games, I’ve cringed at watching just how hard he’s hit some of the opposing players. Its something that is not the most important because many coaches want a technically sound LB, but when you see a LB close at the rate he does, it does make you go “wow if he can refine that technique a bit more, he’s going to be a star.” The next thing is Vontaze is a tackling guy and shows great form when he tackles his opponents. As you can see so far with my profile it’s a bit different in analyzing the strengths, because I’ve made it obvious he can tackle and he is intense, but it’s the other things you notice while watching him that are so positive. In this video clip done by one of my good twitter friends Aaron Aloysius (give him a follow at @AaronAloysius) you can see it he tackles every time with great form.
Its almost an underrated trait with LB’s because in our day and age we’ve become very into the big hits and highlight plays, but watching him consistently wrap up his opponents and also level them with terrifying force. Its almost a minimal positive to some, but as me being a big time old school football guy I view it almost as one of the more important positives that a LB can show. The final thing that stands out to me and its shown so many times in the above highlight video is the play recognition. There were numerous times where he would actually meet the ball carrier instantly or read the screen pass/pass in general and make a big time play. Quite possibly my favorite is about half way through the video where he recognizes the RB screen and then meets him and tackles him as soon as he catches the ball. That shows a LB who has the mental instincts to read plays and make quick reactions to any sort of play. Its something that you want to see in those big time LB’s because yeah its great having a technician LB, but those who can make the quick reactions and change the whole facet of a game are those who end up being long time pro bowl selections and end up being All Pro players. Patrick Willis right now is that kind of guy and Vontaze could very well be like him if he straightens out his negatives that I’ll get to shortly.
Now lets get to the negatives with Vontaze and it comes down to two major things for me, one his immaturity and two his ability to become to upright and stiff making plays. Vontaze is one of my favorite players to watch based on his pure ability as a LB, but to be honest he makes some dumb plays in terms of penalties. He’s been penalized multiple times for personal fouls and yes some are not as bad as they look, but you develop a reputation then as a dirty player. Now is he like Fairley in the dirty play regard? Its tough to call because he’s made some bad choices, but also when in the highlight video he gets a personal foul, but it wasn’t as bad as it was made out to be. In the NFL if he has a strong HC who can reel in the attitude of him then he can be a star player, but some teams will pause with the plays he has shown in games. The other concern with Vontaze is how he plays upright and his technique isn’t the greatest. In college you can get away with pure athleticism but in the NFL it wont get you far unless you know your technique and assignments down with the best of them. Vontaze will need to improve on it as I’ve seen multiple times in which he is playing upright and being taken out of the play early on. Its something that does make you pause because if you draft Vontaze in the 1st round you want immediate production and with him you would need to rework technique and have a good top notch LB coach to work with him. Its not something though that will stop a GM from taking a chance on him though. We’ve seen it in the past you will get drafted high for athleticism over some other things like football smarts and it works out sometimes and other times it ends up horribly. Overall though while there are negatives for Vontaze they aren’t the end all be all with a player of his caliber, but they will be scrutinized and looked at heavily by teams before they decide whether to draft him of not
Well to end the profile its now to the where does he fit for the Redskins part? Well its simple Vontaze would be a great 3-4 ILB fit for us because he possesses the blitz ability that Haslett likes out of his ILB’s and also has shown the ability to show good coverage ability. While possessing all those traits he also will need some work to make sure he does maximize his potential including the refinement of his technique and reworking in some areas. Vontaze has all the tools but it will also come down to his dedication to the game in the little areas in his quest to be a great LB