The Cleveland Browns lead the NFL with 13 selections in this month's draft, and general manager Tom Heckert might be willing to take a risk with one of those picks.
The Browns have shown interest in drafting Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict, multiple sources told told ESPN Cleveland on Tuesday. "(Burfict) would be a late-round value pick," one source told the site.
The Butkus Award semifinalist is known for his attacking, physical play, but also for a lack of discipline that cost Arizona State on and off the field.
Burfict generated negative press in 2011 for a locker-room scuffle with teammate Kevin Ozier, a wide receiver. I sat in on a conversation with Burfict at the combine where he said he learned from the incident. In the same conversation, Burfict cast blame on his college coaches for an "average" junior season.
"The coaches kind of messed me up, like, I didnât know if I was going to start a game, I didn't know if I was going to be benched," Burfict said. "So, it hurt me at times, but I tried to fight through it."
NFL.com draft guru Chad Reuter was a stone's throw away when this report came through and weighed in on Burfict's value.
"Burfict flashes explosive hitting ability between the tackles, but given his lack of discipline on and off the field at Arizona State, scouts aren't sure he has what it takes between the ears," Reuter said. "I fully expect, however, that a team will take a shot on him late with the hopes that he matures and takes advantage of his physical gifts to become a battering ram against the run."
The Browns are (eternally) in need of a "battering ram against the run," and while the team already has a middle linebacker locked down in D'Qwell Jackson, he's the type of veteran who could help mentor a younger player.
Heckert drafted wideout Greg Little and defensive end Jabaal Sheard last season. Both came with off-the-field issues, but were productive in Cleveland. With a bounty of picks, Cleveland might be willing to roll the dice again.