I’m not going to get in depth with the film again. I don’t have that kind of time. I am going to say this though, earlier in the year I was much more glowing in my review of Vontaze. Right now I would be shocked if he’s a first round pick, that’s not an exaggeration. Honestly I can’t find tape of the later games this year, so you’ll have to just take my word for it. I wouldn’t even be surprised if he fell to the third round. His stock has been killed this year, and rightfully so, he showed up out of shape, played terribly, quit on his team, and still had his usually off the field nonsense and the penalties on the field. More after the jump.
I’ve talked to multiple media members that cover ASU for the various media outlets, and all of them have said they wouldn’t take Vontaze in the first round he is way to big of a risk. I feel like Mock Drafts, and people like McShay and Keiper will still put Vontaze in the first round, but that actually football people who make decisions won’t touch him.
Think About This: Dennis Erikson benched Vontaze at the end of the year. It may have been a "Screw You" benching because Coach Erikson knew that he was being fired, but it shows that Erikson was tired of Vontaze’s antics. Dennis Erikson coached in the NFL for the Seahawks. The Eagles actually tried to hire him in 1995. Say what you will about Erikson’s coaching abilities recently, but he is a respected figure in the sport. Any team considering Vontaze will do their due diligence and talk to Coach Erikson. I can’t imagine any of the things he says about Vontaze to be good.
Football Issues: Vontaze’s biggest problem, ahead of everything else is that he cannot get off blocks, fundamentally he isn’t a good football player. That is going to kill him at the NFL level. Supreme Athletes in the NFL also have the best fundamentals. Vontaze’s style of play is best described as "aim and shoot," he has very little control on the field. This year he did start trying to cut pulling guards, but it was some pathetic effort. If he put the time in, he could get off blocks, but he has had no desire to get better while at ASU. He’s a worse player today than he was his first game as a freshman, he has developed terrible habits and hasn’t become a fundamentally sound football player. If he plans on being a starting middle linebacker in the NFL he is going to have to learn how to get off blocks. I doubt he bothers to learn; this guy literally doesn’t give a shit.
He also isn't a sound tackler. He does not wrap up, he just goes for kill shots. The last thing I want on the Eagles is another defensive player who can't tackle.
His Sophomore year, he showed legit flashes of high-end NFL athleticism, but he wasn’t even the best linebacker on the Sun Devils squad in 2010, that nod has to go to Brandon Magee (who was hurt all of 2011.) Vontaze gained a ton of hype in the off season mostly because some stupid AOL Article referred to him as "The Meanest Man in College Football." t’s awful; he has never been a great player at ASU, just a player who had great potential in college.
Vontaze’s Junior Year (His Final Year 2011.) Was awful. Describing his play in 2011 as awful isn’t fair to things that are actually awful. For starters, he showed up way out of shape. Had to have been 15 pounds heavier, and not the good kind of 15. You could see it in his play this year too, the explosiveness wasn’t the same, exposing so many of his fundamental flaws. His game wasn’t good enough at the college level where he could get by on pure athleticism, it led to his benching at the end of the year. Early on in the year he was being taken off the field for obvious passing downs because of his poor coverage. He eventually got benched by Erikson at the end of the year (it may have a been a thanks for getting me fired you ass kind of benching, but a benching none the less.)
Wide-Nine and Vontaze: Sure the wide nine may not be around next year if Washburn heads to St. Louis, or if Spags and Washburn can’t find a way to work together, but if it is Vontaze is a horrible fit for it. Wide Nine as you all know requires outstanding linebacker play behind it. Linebackers in this system have to be able to read the play, and avoid blocks coming quickly towards them at the second level. The other thing Vontaze needs if he is going to be successful is a serious veteran presence in the locker room on the defensive side of the ball. He needs to end up in a Baltimore or Pittsburgh. I personally think Vontaze is a better fit in a 3-4 system playing in the middle, at this point he’s not ready to start as a 43 Mike.
Random stories from around Campus about him.
- He’s beat people up in pick up basketball games, literally choked them out beat them up, not banging it in the blocks beat them up.
- His well documented fight with a teammate.
- Players on the team told me this year that he just walked around at practice with his helmet off, and referred to the coaches by their first names. I know that may not sound like a big deal, but think back to when you played high school ball if you ever were just like "Okay John" to your coach. I know if I ever called my coach Tony, I would have been running gassers till I died. That’s a serious sign of disrespect on Vontaze’s part.
- I’ve heard from people close to the ASU program that Vontaze’s agent (yes, he already has an agent, and yes that is against NCAA rules,) told him this past off season something along the lines of, "take it easy, don’t get hurt, you’re a shoe in first round draft pick." If that’s the case, then Vontaze quit on his teammates before the year even started. He quit on them during the year as well by his actions.
- The stupid penalties didn’t really get much better this year, sure he was being targeted, but he knew that coming into the season and didn’t do anything to change it.
- The best Vontaze story from 2011 by far comes from the night before the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl vs. Boise St. An Upperclassman Journalism Major that I am a friend of went to the game. He had just turned 21, so he was making the trip to Vegas. At around 2am the night before the game he decided to head to the nearest liquor store (you have to enjoy Vegas.) What he didn’t expect was to walk in and see Vontaze Burfict at the counter asking the owner for "The Strongest Shit You Got." Vontaze Was out past curfew and was going to be hung over for game day, but he didn’t care at all. He was benched for a large portion of the bowl game, but that was coming already, he wasn’t running with the first team for the Bowl practices. (EDIT I talked to a player again after some speculation in the comments that the players never had a curfew. He said they did not have a Curfew their First and Fourth nights, but did their second and third. I asked if they didn't have a curfew the night before the game, he said no that was the third night, they did. So yes, He was out past curfew.)
Kuechly vs Burfict: comparing Luke Kuechly being taken ahead of Vontaze by the Eagles to Graham being taken over JPP is just ignorant. JPP was a far superior athlete coming out than Vontaze is, and not nearly the head-case. If you want to be mad at this potential pick, it should be if Vontaze is taken over Kuechly if Kuechly is still on the board. There is the belief, I’m not sure if it’s racially driven, but that Luke Kuechly isn’t athletic. True, at their best Vontaze is a better combine athlete, but there’s more to great on field play than that. Kuechly has superior instincts to Vontaze, putting him in position to make plays far more often than Burfict. Luke Kuechly is an amazing college player. All you have to do is look up some film of him to see that he isn’t a slow small linebacker. His fundamentally sound play and good instincts will translate better to the next level in my opinion than Vontaze’s wild and angry play.
This isn’t the kind of guy you want on your team. As for the "Vontaze has so much more potential stuff," right now if you put Vontaze Burfict and Luke Kuechly on the same field the superior athlete would be Luke, no joke. Vontaze if he was smart (which he isn’t so who knows) will show up to the combine in amazing shape. If the athleticism is back that makes him a much more attractive pick, but I still wouldn’t take him in the first round, not even the early second.
Random Complaint: Lay off of Graham, he was the right pick at that time; in hindsight he was the wrong pick. I wanted JPP too, but don’t act like Graham wasn’t the smarter pick. JPP hadn’t played much football; he was just an insane athlete doing backflips. An insane athlete doing backflips I wish the Eagles had drafted. I’ve also never loved Earl Thomas, it is what it is, Grahams injury really sucked and makes it hard to judge the pick, oh well it happens.
I know everyone wants an enforcer on this team, but Vontaze isn’t that. He’s not a great player like a Dawk, or Ray Lewis, this defense may need attitude, but they don’t need a complete ass-hat ruining their locker room.
All that said Vontaze does do a lot of good things, it's not like he's an undraftable football player. He jumps the snap count better than any player I can remember watching, and he is a good player in space, as long as he’s not being blocked. I would be very happy if the Eagles took him in the 3rd round, even trading back up into the late second, but that hinges on a few things, the main one is him showing up to the combine in shape.
ASU and the Draft: I’m trying to be able to cover ASU’s pro-day coming up, and the ASU prospect I’m most excited about at the pro level is Gerrell Robinson. He’s a 6’4 possession receiver that punishes people after the catch. I’m not sure how well he will grade out at the combine, he doesn’t have elite speed, and he doesn’t have the great hands of a Justin Blackmon, but if you turn the film on, he can play.
- Read DJack10’s post on Luke Kuechly, I think he really is right on about Kuechly.
- Here is link to my first Vontaze write up with all of the tapes. 2010 looks really good, 2011, looks really terrible. I was going easy on him because ASU was still looking like they were going to win the Pac12 South, and he hadn't completely quit yet.
I have been really busy or I would have gone more into breaking down specifics of why I think he's bad. Busy or not I read BGN every day, even if I’m just lurking and I appreciate this site so much. Also, a big thank you to mr.electric10 for mentioning the Real LT had found mocking the draft. I was really sick last week when I saw that, and I went over and read that idiots comments and it made me laugh. Man, what an idiot, he's the kind of guy I'd expect to want Vontaze on his team.
I'll say it one more time. 2010 Vontaze shows some good potential, 2011 Vontaze is what we have to be looking at, and there are red flags everywhere.