Arizona State LB Vontaze Burfict was in the first and second round discussion when it came to the upcoming 2012 NFL Draft for quite some time prior to and during this year's college football season. After the season came to and end, scouts and analysts started grinding tape and seeing some concerns, then Burfict had a poor showing at the NFL Combine. His stock, according to most scouts and analysts, now sits in the late rounds to undrafted free agent range. Mel Kiper had a reporters' conference call on Friday and addressed Burficts extraordinary slide:
We'll go to Burfict first. You think about the year that he had, which wasn't spectacular, for the fact that he ran the five flat 40, the unsportsmanlike conduct penalties we chronicled. I had written about that all year. I think you look at Vontaze Burfict as a guy that has probably dropped as much in this draft in terms of his rating as probably any prospect in recent times in terms of going from an early rounder to being talked about now as a sixth, seventh rounder or undrafted free agent, in an inside linebacker group that frankly is very poor, very weak. There's not that many, so this was a year where if you're an inside linebacker, middle linebacker you thought that you would have had a reasonably good chance.
I'll give you an example. Another Pac-12 inside linebacker who can also play outside, Mychal Kendricks, his stock has soared to the point where he's probably in the early to mid-second round discussion now. So here's a Cal kid, same conference, in the early second, and here's Vontaze Burfict, who's now late round or undrafted free agent, so that's pretty amazing.
It should be interesting to see what happens next weekend - as they say, it only takes one team to fall in love with you - and there might be a front office out there that still sees some major potential and opts to take a chance. It's not looking great right now for the former Sun Devil, who may, after being considered a first-round prospect at one time, have to hang around on practice squads for a year or two before being given the chance to see an NFL field.
For more on the Sun Devils, head over to House of Sparky.