#55 Vontaze Burfict, Outside Linebacker
Birth Date: September 24, 1990
Weight: 255 lbs.
School: Arizona State
Experience: One Season
Vontaze Burfict as we all know, was once perceived as a top-10 draft pick in the 2011 NFL draft. After a tumultuous junior season, his inconsistent play, numerous personal fouls, poor conditioning , and a positive marijuana test at the NFL Scouting Combine, Burfict went undrafted. He wasn’t able to begin his NFL journey until after being signed by the Bengals as a free agent. Many called this nothing more than another attempt by the Bengals to find value where no one else was willing to look. But despite all the signs of immaturity and character concerns, Vontaze became a vital cog in defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer’s vaunted defense.
As a rookie, Vontaze was asked to switch from middle linebacker to the weakside. He would get playing time at both positions during the preseason, and played admirably enough to earn a roster spot, and was projected to be one of the first LBs to come off the bench. But after Thomas Howard suffered a season-ending knee injury in the early weeks of the season, Burfict went from backup to starter in the blink of an eye.
He filled the weakside position magnificently, playing above expectations, even leading the team in total tackles with 127, notched a sack, and had two fumble recoveries while playing in 82.96 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.
Entering his sophomore year, Tez will undoubtedly be a much-improved player, who will be all over the field and making even more of an impact after such an superb rookie season.