“From a football perspective, every team in the league has a lot of homework to do,” NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock said about Hill. “He’s a hard guy to figure out, just like [former Georgia Tech and current Denver Broncos receiver] Demaryius Thomas was, because you don’t see real routes; all you see are verticals, crosses and play-action and jump balls. You have to do your homework on this kid, and he’s kind of pushed himself right up in the forefront of this wide receivers class.”
His showing certainly grabbed the Ravens’ attention this weekend, but the concern will now be how many other teams are smitten with Hill’s size, athleticism, and play-making potential.
If Hill is the perfect example of a player seizing the moment at the NFL Combine, Arizona State inside linebacker Vontaze Burfict is the opposite case study of a player whose stock appears to be crumbling.
Already facing questions regarding his character and unimpressive play in his 2011 junior season, Burfict did little to quell concerns about his maturity by deflecting blame to others and followed that with a lackluster performance during the linebacker workouts on Monday. Even after shedding a few pounds to weigh in at 248, Burfict’s official 40 time of 5.09 seconds pales in comparison to the rest of a very athletic group of linebackers.
Few players in this year’s draft have been as polarizing as Burfict, and that’s not even taking into account his questionable character. Mayock did not speak favorably about the big linebacker’s play in his final season at Arizona State, and Pro Football Talk’s Evan Silva went as far as suggesting Burfict may be off teams’ draft boards entirely after Monday.
While teams should never fall in love with a player or write him off based solely on what happens in Indianapolis, Burfict will have a lot of work to do over the next two months to rebuild his draft stock. In any case, the talk of the troubled linebacker’s name being mentioned as a potential heir to Lewis sounds silly at the moment.
It was never a guarantee that Burfict would have projected as a first-round talent anyway, but a player with questions between the ears has little margin for error when it comes to the physical part of the equation.
In other words, he’s a far cry from Ravens’ 2011 first-round pick Jimmy Smith, who left little doubt about his ability to play cornerback on the field despite a questionable past.