Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 2/27/12
My first reaction to Vontaze Burfict's media interviews at the NFL Scouting Combine was: "Wow, he really does have a voice." My second reaction? So this is why former coach Dennis Erickson and the Arizona State media relations staff didnt force Burfict to speak to us. In that short span in Indianapolis, Burfict managed to: Throw his former coaches under the bus when he said: "The coaches kind of messed me up. I didn't know if I would start a game or be benched." Admitted he could have played better last season. Wondered aloud why he was painted as the bad guy in his infamous punching incident with teammate Kevin Ozier "because my first instinct was to swing on the guy." Lets be clear: Im not one of those guys who believes players need to speak to the media. Burfict was a college student. If he had an aversion to interviews, so be it. But its crystal clear now that he would have benefited from some time in front of mics, cameras and digital recorders. I can only imagine how NFL general managers and coaches reacted to Burfict passing blame rather than accepting responsibility. At the same time, none of those admissions would matter if Burficts talents were still jumping off the charts. But as we predicted would happen once the combine rolled around and teams had a chance to put him under the microscope, Burficts stock is now falling. Why? Its not because of his troubling past and characters issues. Its because NFL executives simply arent convinced the guy can play. Other than a couple early-season games last season -- USC most notably -- Burfict had little impact last season, often drawing the ire of defensive coordinator Craig Bray. Mike Mayock, an analyst for NFL Network, recently criticized Burfict's performance to The Arizona Republic, saying a film session left him not liking Burfict at all. Oh, and his combine performance certainly isn't helping. Burfict ran the 40 in unofficial times of 4.93 and 5.10 seconds, not bad for an offensive lineman but terrible for a linebacker, and also had the second-worst vertical jump (30 inches) among all linebackers. Burfict may prove us wrong by going high in the draft and realizing his once-immense potential. But rest assured, the folks at ASU are happy he is finally somebody elses problem to solve.
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