Few players in this year’s NFL draft class were as closely scrutinized as Arizona State’s Vontaze Burfict, and all that scrutiny ended up with all 32 teams deciding to pass. But Burfict signed as an undrafted free agent with the Bengals, and his new coach thinks Burfict can change the perceptions of him.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis told Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer that Burfict was motivated to get into better shape after his disastrous Scouting Combine and Pro Day performances, and getting in better shape will take Burfict a long way.
“We will continue to get him in shape,” Lewis said. “He’s a better conditioned athlete now than he was at the Combine and at ASU in March. If he continues to go down that path, he seems bright enough to learn. He seems willing to want change this image people have of him.”
Burfict has said he’s excited about the opportunity to play for Lewis, and Lewis was impressed when Burfict made a point of reaching out to him.
“It was just the fact he took the opportunity to find my phone number because I don’t know that I gave it to him,” Lewis said. “To call me, to write me a letter, to do some other things. He got my phone number and called me and said, ‘I hope I get an opportunity.’ I said, ‘I hope you do, too.'”
Now Burfict has his opportunity, and Lewis sounds optimistic that Burfict will make the most of it.