What is this defense missing? Can you actually tell me with a straight face this defense has ever had a player that another team fears? Yes, DeMarcus Ware is possibly the best defensive player in the NFL, but he doesn't strike fear into opposing teams. Ware is too nice of a guy and there is nothing wrong with that. The Cowboys fan base sometimes will question that if Ware should be meaner, but it's just not his game. In my opinion the Cowboys truly lack, for better words, a mean SOB.
Ray Lewis is one of the best players in NFL history and a first ballot hall of fame candidate. During his prime, Lewis struck fear into his opponents and dominated the game at a level many never could reach. Lewis was a throwback player, a guy you see in the 50's and 60's, not the 2000's. The way he plays the game is rare today, you just simply don't see too many players like that anymore and that's a shame. Ray Lewis was the centerpiece for a groundbreaking 3-4 defense that won a Super Bowl and will forever be in contention as one of the best units in NFL history.
Flash forward to 2011 and the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys have a decent defense, not great, but not bad. There are pieces to the puzzle in place, but in my opinion they are clearly lacking that dominant alpha dog. The Cowboys lack a guy who is balls to the wall physical, that physical presence and attitude is simply not there. I am not saying that you need a dirty player, but you do need a physical presence that is intimidating. When you can strike fear into the opposition you have already won some of the battle. Believe it or not, but a lot of football is mental. Having that type of player can do big things mentally for your football team and of course you cannot forget about the physical presence that player brings to the table.
Even though the Cowboys spent a high second round pick on stud inside linebacker Bruce Carter, the Cowboys appear to be scouting Arizona State pretty heavily. Our very own robot, OCC, dropped the info in a front page article that the Cowboys scouts are at another Arizona State game. Chris Steuber reported it via Twitter. Even though we had stud Sean Lee, the Cowboys spent a high 2nd round pick on the studly Bruce Carter. The Cowboys time and time again have shown they are not afraid to draft linebackers high in the draft. That is why it would not shock me to find out that we are heavily interested in the freakish Vontaze Burfict.
Vontaze Burfict is one of the best players in the nation, period. The meanest man in college football is just a beast, there are no other words I can use to describe him. The term beast is something I really like to use sparingly, but Burfict fits the bill and is worthy of the title. Let's take a closer look at Burfict.
Vontaze Burfict is only a junior, but the odds favor him entering the 2012 NFL Draft.
The first thing about Burfict that jumps off the screen when watching him to me is his explosiveness. The guy is a rocket off the line and kind of reminds me of Troy Polamalu in that aspect. He may have the perfect build for a NFL linebacker at 6'3 250. He is lean and built like a rock. The scary part about that is he is only a junior and could stay another year to work in the weight room. Burfict is just the perfect specimen physically and has the amazing burst that big time players possess.
NE Patriots Draft said the same thing about Burfict. He is just amazing off the line and resembles Troy Polamalu, except he is a linebacker.
Strengths: Good size and strength – Can play some OLB and ILB in the 4-3 – May be able to play 3-4 OLB – Unreal timing on blitzes, reminds you of Troy Polamalu – Can stick with TE’s in coverage – Hits with a ferocity unmatched in college football – Has a great bull rush, but can also beat you outside with speed – A true playmaker.
Usually I will not quote or even use anything from Mocking The Draft, but in this case I totally agree with Jon Dove.
His athletic ability is combined with a high motor and drive to make plays. He plays with a nastiness that results in big hits and Burfict always being around the football.
Burfict is an athletic freak that is one of those high motor type of football players. He may be the nastiest player in all of college football. If you go and Youtube Burfict, you will find a bunch of video's showing him doing some unlikable acts. This is clearly one area Burfict has to improve on. Too many times during games he will lose his composure and cool. This will result in 15 yard penalties that ultimately will kill a team in the NFL. Honestly this may be his biggest flaw of all, because physically there really isn't too many things you can actually harp on.
For me it's simple. clean up your act and stay calm under pressure. Easier said than done of course, but if Burfict can manage to keep himself from headbutting and punching opposing players, this kid will be a dominant force in the NFL for a long time.
Perhaps the most polarizing part of his game is where he will play in the NFL. Personally I think the guy can play in any scheme because of his athletic ability. He is obviously a sideline to sideline player because of his speed and quickness. Burfict is a ferocious tackler and a intimidating presence physically, so he could easily play the 3-4. He has a excellent bull rush and can easily use his speed and quickness as a outside pass rusher. The versatility for this guy to be a 4-3 or 3-4 ILB or OLB is there. At the end of the day, whatever defense the team that selects him plays will fit him perfectly. He is just simply too good of a prospect not to fit in wherever he goes. He is the type of player where you can build your defense around him.
There have really been two linebackers that I have been really high on the past few drafts. They would be Patrick Willis and Rolando McClain. If I were to grade each of those linebackers I would give them a 9.5 or 95 rating, easy top ten picks. Where Vontaze Burfict will grade at the end of season depends on the scout or draft guru grading him. As of right now, I would give Burfict a 9.5 or 90 rating. The kid is a straight up beast and I understand that physical skills don't always hold up in the NFL, but I also factor in his mentality. He reminds me of a throwback player, the same way Ray Lewis did in his prime.
Patrick Willis and Rolando McClain were the type of linebackers who don't come around too often and Vontaze Burfict fits into the same type of category. The Cowboys had Sean Lee as their highest rated linebacker prospect since Patrick Willis. Now I couldn't find the article where I read that, it was back in 2010 and was hard to find. I did find this ESPN Dallas article though. It's a great read about Sean Lee and how Rob Ryan wanted to trade up for Lee during the 2010 draft. In that article the same scout that was the source for the article I read in 2010 is quoted on saying Lee was one of the highest rated linebackers since Willis. Please check that article out, great read.
Now I understand we have the studly Sean Lee already in the starting lineup and we have 2nd round pick Bruce Carter coming back for the Rams game. Carter was the 40th overall pick this past April, so the Cowboys have two young studs already in the fold. But Burfict is the physical intimidating force this defense has lacked for a long time. The Cowboys have shown they aren't afraid to spend high draft picks on linebackers for this 3-4 defense. Barbie Carpenter, Anthony Spencer, Jason Williams, Brandon Williams, Victor Butler, Sean Lee and Bruce Carter have all been drafted under the linebackers are important theory for the 3-4 defense. This is why it would not shock me at all to see the Cowboys show heavy interest in Burfict come draft time.
Not every great defense needs a physical intimidating force to have great success, but it sure doesn't hurt your chances having one. Vontaze Burfict is currently Scouts Inc #12 rated player on their big board with a grade of 92. After reading that scouting report (you have to be an Insider or I would link it), I was sold even more on Burfict. If and when Burfict announces he will forgo his senior season to enter the NFL Draft, he will be a hot commodity. He will blow up the combine because of his athletic ability and after that Burfict will be the talk of the draft possibly.
Many of you will not be pleased with the possibility of drafting yet another linebacker, but think about the possible career this kid can have in the NFL. Imagine if we had Ray Lewis all of those years on our defense, imagine the possibilities with a intimidating physical force in this defense. The need on the defensive line and secondary obviously outweighs the need for another linebacker, but sometimes you need to go after the best player on the board. All I know is I would love to see Burfict in the blue and silver of the Dallas Cowboys.
Vontaze Burfict, he may be the piece this defense has been missing.
Vontaze Burfict-All American (via thereaper)
Vontaze Burfict NFL Draft Analysis - 2010 Season (via TMBDraft)