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After predraft fall, Burfict rises for Bengals

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Posted Sept. 22, 2012 @ 12:23 p.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

A year ago, LB Vontaze Burfict was regarded as a solid NFL prospect — a player who surely would be drafted. However, a disappointing junior season at Arizona State, a poor Combine workout and character concerns combined to torpedo Burfict’s draft stock, and he went unselected. However, he signed with the Bengals, a club that needed LB depth — and a team that has had success with players needing a fresh start. Not only did Burfict make the Bengals, but he’s now their first-string weak-side linebacker after Thomas Howard suffered a season-ending knee injury. It’s a remarkable turnaround for the 6-1, 245-pound Burfict, and it’s also an exceptional opportunity for him. The Bengals’ defense has struggled early this season, but Burfict has flashed some potential. He’s picked up the Bengals' defensive concepts quickly, and he’s shown some playmaking ability, the way we hear it. There’s a chance he could play quite a bit for the Bengals. How he fares is a story line to watch, both for Bengals observers and draftniks who recall Burfict’s steep fall. 

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