Hortiz Weighs In On Burfict’s Plummeting Draft Stock

Mel Kiper sees the Arizona State LB falling to the 4th or 5th round.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Friday, March 9th, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Categories: Ryan Mink

While the first round seems to be out of reach for Arizona State inside linebacker Vontaze Burfict, he’s still a prospect on the minds of Ravens fans.

Burfict saw his stock plummet at the combine, as he turned in a 40-yard dash slower than some linemen, then dropped out of remaining drills. Now ESPN draftnik Mel Kiper says Burfict may be a fourth- or fifth-round pick.

So how do the Ravens view Burfict’s combine performance?

“I think ultimately you have to look at the film,” Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz said.

“Does he play faster than he ran at Indy? There are a lot of guys that fall under that case. Does he make plays, is he instinctive, is he a good football player? If those things are there, then you can build off of them.”

Hortiz said juniors often enter the draft process with less mental preparation, which leads to less physical preparation. As opposed to seniors, they don’t go into their final year preparing themselves for the NFL, and may make the decision to make the leap late in the season.

Hortiz recalled that linebacker Brandon Spikes ran slower in the 40-yard dash than Burfict, who posted a time of 5.09 seconds. Spikes, who ended up being a second-round pick, has had two solid seasons in New England, averaging 54 tackles.

There are more questions than just Burfict’s physical performance, however. He spent the combine answering questions about his character and maturity, and told the media he’s misunderstood after a fight with a teammate, multiple flagrant penalties and more.

The Ravens have taken chances on players before, including last year. There were questions about cornerback Jimmy Smith last season, yet Baltimore invested the 27th-overall draft pick in him and didn’t have any problems once he arrived.

“Last year we poured a lot of resources into Jimmy Smith because there were character questions on him,” Hortiz said.

“We had multiple scouts go in there, we had talked to coaches – head coach, position coach, strength coach, trainers – police officers, police department. We brought him in here. You do a lot of work on those players, and if you’re going to take a player who is labeled as a character concern, you really have to do your due diligence.”

Pundits have said the Ravens are a team that can handle prospects that have maturity issues considering Baltimore has such strong locker-room leadership.

But Hortiz said that doesn’t mean they feel more comfortable taking questionable prospects.

“You can’t blindly say, ‘Well, he’ll fit into our locker room because we have a locker room full of leaders,’ because that’s not always going to be the case,” Hortiz said.

“Likewise, you can’t say, ‘He’s a bad guy, we don’t want him.’ You really have to investigate each guy individually and come up with an opinion of whether they can fit or whether you should move on from them.”

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