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Old 02-27-2012, 06:41 AM   #1
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Default NFL Combine: Inside linebacker would fill Steelers need

NFL Combine: Inside linebacker would fill Steelers need
Monday, February 27, 2012
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS -- Vontaze Burfict, one of the top inside linebacker prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine, might already have something in common with James Harrison. At Arizona State, where he got into a fight with a teammate and was suspended for throwing punches in a game, Burfict was named the meanest man in college football.

Dont'a Hightower would like to have something in common with Harrison. Such as, play between him and LaMarr Woodley. The inside linebacker from national champion Alabama lists those two players among his favorite linebackers in the NFL.

Burfict and Hightower have questions to answer and something to prove at Lucas Oil Stadium, but for much different reasons. Burfict (6 feet 3, 248 pounds) wants to prove he is not the bad guy he is portrayed to be, especially after a senior season at Arizona State in which he battled teammates, coaches, officials and his weight. His test will come in interview sessions with coaches and general managers, not in physical drills.

Hightower (6-2, 265) will have his exam on the stadium floor today when linebackers run and work out at the combine. He has to show he is not bothered by a severe knee injury that ended his 2009 season.

The Steelers have something of a sense of urgency at inside linebacker and will likely be looking for one in the early rounds of the draft in April, perhaps with the 24th overall pick. They met with Hightower at the combine, but they need more research and are not sold on either player.

"I just know I'm the best linebacker in this draft; I know I can get the job done," Burfict said. "I played average [last season]. I could've played better. That's what hurt me at times. The coaches kind of messed me up. I didn't know if I would start a game or be benched. It hurt me, but I tried to fight through it."

Literally.

Burfict got into a fight with a teammate that started on the practice field and carried into the locker room. Burfict said he was pushed first and retaliated by taking a swing at his teammate. He was also suspended for a game after throwing punches at two separate players in a game against Oregon State.

"It started in seven-on-seven," Burfict explained about the practice fight. "He was running a route, he hit me. We're not supposed to hit each other in seven-on-seven. He hit me and we had a little argument. We brought it into the locker room and started chatting about it. Then, he started rough-housing me and pushed me, and then my first instinct was to swing on him. Then everybody thinks I'm the bad guy for that because my instinct was to swing on him."

Perhaps, but words such as undisciplined, divisive, energy-draining and coach-killer are often used to describe Burfict. However, when asked at the combine to describe himself, he said, "I am a soft-spoken guy, shy sometimes, but when I am on the field I hate to lose and that aggression comes out."

There are no such questions about Hightower, who is considered the No. 2 inside linebacker in the draft behind Luke Kuechly of Boston College but could last until late in the first round. He said he is back to his pre-injury level and maybe faster than he was before he tore the anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament and meniscus in his left knee four games into his freshman season in 2009.

Hightower returned in 2010 and had 69 tackles, but last season he anchored the nation's best defense, was a finalist for numerous national awards and was part of a national championship team.

"I feel a lot more fluid as far as my movements go," Hightower said. "I feel as fast as I've ever felt, even before the knee injury. I feel like the nutrition I've gotten at API has really helped me out as far as my lean mass and my body weight, so I'm definitely moving in the right direction."

Hightower interviewed with the Steelers and Ravens on Friday night and 12 more teams Saturday. He had another 12 interviews scheduled for Sunday night. The meetings with the Steelers and Ravens were particularly appealing because Hightower lists Harrison, Woodley, Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs among the linebackers he follows.

He said he is aware the Steelers have a need at inside linebacker because James Farrior, their defensive captain, is 37. It is likely that Farrior or his backup, Larry Foote, will not return for the 2012 season.

"I've talked to a couple of [Steelers] scouts since I've been here and they're interested in me and I'm looking forward to sitting down and talking to coach [Mike] Tomlin."
Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com; twitter: @gerrydulac

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/12058...#ixzz1naMYLfW3
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:42 AM   #2
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Default Re: NFL Combine: Inside linebacker would fill Steelers need

One sounds like another Potsie, the other sounds like Greg Lloyd at the ILB!!! Flip a coin....
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:12 AM   #3
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Default Re: NFL Combine: Inside linebacker would fill Steelers need

I hear a couple of "red flags" from Burfict.

"The coaches messed me up....."

"My first instinct was to swing at him...."

Sounds like this guy finds it easy to point the finger at others and has a hard time controlling his "instincts."

If we all just followed our instincts, many of us would end up in jail.

I see a big upside and a very big downside with this guy.

Personally, I'd pass on him. Our defense is targeted by the refs enough as is.
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:20 AM   #4
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Default Re: NFL Combine: Inside linebacker would fill Steelers need

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrancoLambert View Post
I hear a couple of "red flags" from Burfict.

"The coaches messed me up....."

"My first instinct was to swing at him...."

Sounds like this guy finds it easy to point the finger at others and has a hard time controlling his "instincts."

If we all just followed our instincts, many of us would end up in jail.

I see a big upside and a very big downside with this guy.

Personally, I'd pass on him. Our defense is targeted by the refs enough as is.
This is where I am at too. He isnt disciplined, takes himself out of position at times to try and make big plays. Mayock said he "ran around a lot of blocks" this season on tape. Bruce Davis ran around a lot of blocks and didnt take on the blocker either.
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Old 02-27-2012, 12:30 PM   #5
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Default Re: NFL Combine: Inside linebacker would fill Steelers need

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrancoLambert View Post
I hear a couple of "red flags" from Burfict.

"The coaches messed me up....."

"My first instinct was to swing at him...."

Sounds like this guy finds it easy to point the finger at others and has a hard time controlling his "instincts."

If we all just followed our instincts, many of us would end up in jail.

I see a big upside and a very big downside with this guy.

Personally, I'd pass on him. Our defense is targeted by the refs enough as is.
yeah i thought he did very poorly in the interviews as well. I'm more likely to respect someone who will admit they ****ed up, than blame it on others. we won't be taking burfict, unless somehow he slips to round 3. even then, i'd still probably not want him on the team.
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Old 02-27-2012, 12:30 PM   #6
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Default Re: NFL Combine: Inside linebacker would fill Steelers need

i have been saying this about Burfict since people started saying we should take him. i wouldnt touch him before the 3rd round. no way. if Poe and Glenn are gone when we pick which they probably will be then im all for taking Hightower
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Old 02-27-2012, 12:39 PM   #7
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Default Re: NFL Combine: Inside linebacker would fill Steelers need

a player like burfict definitely won't be ready to play. if we're going to spend a pick on a project player who might be ready in 2-3 years, i'd rather have someone with a higher footbal IQ like mychal kendricks, who we could probably land in rd. 4 or 5
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Old 02-27-2012, 02:44 PM   #8
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Default Re: NFL Combine: Inside linebacker would fill Steelers need

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Originally Posted by Fire Arians View Post
a player like burfict definitely won't be ready to play. if we're going to spend a pick on a project player who might be ready in 2-3 years, i'd rather have someone with a higher footbal IQ like mychal kendricks, who we could probably land in rd. 4 or 5
wasnt Kendricks more of a pass rusher from the OLB position at Cal?? I thought at 5-11" 240lbs, that he was a shorter kind of James Harrison build?? Can he play ILB in the NFL?
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