Stats & Info: Vontaze Burfict

NFL combine: the long and short of things

February, 21, 2013

Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY Sports Trindon Holliday was the shortest player in the NFL last season (5'5"), but he came up big in the playoffs, where he picked up a pair of return touchdowns against the Ravens.
On-field workouts at the 32nd annual National Invitational Camp, also known as the NFL Combine, will begin Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

There will be plenty of talk about heights, weights, wingspans and waistlines, but what does it all mean?

Is 6'5" really SHORT by offensive line standards? (yes)

Can a pass-rusher succeed if he's less than six feet tall? Elvis Dumervil (5'11") thinks so.

Here's everything you wanted to know about the NFL Combine:

There's no more iconic drill at the combine than the 40-yard dash. But what does it mean when a guy has "4.3 speed"?

If a player truly runs the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds flat, he's in a small club. Since 2006, only six players have run a true 4.3-second 40-yard dash (or better), led by RB Chris Johnson (4.24).

While Johnson is a 3-time Pro Bowl selection, and only Adrian Peterson (7,508) has more rushing yards than Johnson over the last five seasons the rest of the names on this list have combined for zero Pro Bowl selections, and only Jacoby Ford, DeMarcus Van Dyke and Darrius Heyward-Bey are still active in the league.

Among QBs, it's no surprise that Robert Griffin III owns one of the best marks. The former Baylor track star ran a 4.41 at last year's combine, but since 2006, that's only the second-best time at his position.

Another QB from the Lone Star State, Texas A&M's Reggie McNeal, ran a 4.35 in 2006. McNeal finished his NFL career with just one rushing attempt for eight yards.

The Wonderlic is a 50-question test administered to all combine participants that measures cognitive ability. The time limit is 12 minutes.

A score of 20 is indicative of “average” intelligence and roughly equivalent to an IQ of 100. Former Bengals punter Pat McInally, who attended Harvard, is the only NFL prospect known to have scored a perfect 50 on the test.
Miguel Cabrera
Among QBs drafted over the last 2 years, Andrew Luck and Colin Kaepernick each scored 37, while Jake Locker (20) and Cam Newton (21) were less successful.

Although Wonderlic scores are not released to the public, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (another Harvard alum) is reported to have scored a 48, the highest among active players.

The combine is full of remarkable performances, positive and negative.

Last year, DT Dontari Poe boosted his draft stock when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.98 seconds after weighing in at 346 pounds. He also showed off his strength with 44 repetitions on the bench press.
Miguel Cabrera
In 2007, receiver Calvin Johnson wowed scouts with a 4.35 in the 40-yard dash...wearing borrowed shoes, as he'd originally intended not to run.

On the other hand, linebacker Vontaze Burfict shocked scouts in the wrong way last year with his time of 5.09 in the 40-yard dash.

In 2009, offensive lineman Andre Smith left the combine without informing officials. It was announced inside the stadium that his whereabouts were "unknown."

It all begins again on Saturday, when more than 300 invited prospects begin on-field workouts in Indianapolis.

Bengals 'D' rolling late in the season

January, 3, 2013

AP Photo/Keith SrakocicThe Bengals have caused a lot of frustration for opposing quarterbacks recently.

One of the things that the Cincinnati Bengals have going for them in their bid to upset the Houston Texans is one of the best pass defenses in the NFL.

Cincinnati has yielded the fifth-lowest Total QBR (41.8) to opponents and has given up a league-low 10 pass plays of at least 30 yards.

The Bengals defense has been able to create havoc with a standard four-man pass rush, especially in the second half of the season.

It had an NFL-high 37 sacks when sending such pressure, and allowed only eight touchdown passes, tied for second-fewest in the league.

The Bengals held opposing quarterbacks to a 30.0 Total QBR when sending four or fewer pass rushers over the last eight games of the season, second only to the Broncos over that stretch (19.8).

Among the highlights were the game that started the run of success, a Week 10 win over the Giants in which they shut down Eli Manning, and the game that put the Bengals in the playoffs- a Week 16 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers a game in which they held Ben Roethlisberger to a 7.1 Total QBR.

The Bengals intercepted Manning and Roethlisberger twice each and managed seven sacks (three vs Manning, four against Roethlisberger) when sending their standard rush.

The two players who were able to cause trouble more in the second half of the season were Wallace Gilberry and Carlos Dunlap, who combined for 10 1/2 sacks in the Bengals last eight games after netting only two in the first eight games.

The quarterback they’ll be facing, Matt Schaub has struggled late in the season against four or fewer pass rushers, throwing only one touchdown pass against standard pressure over his last four games.
Schaub’s Total QBR against such pressure has seen a significant drop as well, playing a key role in the Texans’ three losses in those contests.

Additionally, though we cited long pass plays as being something in which the Bengals excelled at defending, their biggest improvement was on short throws-- ones that traveled 10 yards in the air or fewer.

Vontaze Burfict and Manny Lawson are among those who have cut off the success opponents were having earlier in the year.

The Bengals allowed touchdowns on such throws in seven of their first eight games this season, including three to Peyton Manning in Week 9. But in the last eight games, they allowed only one touchdown on 209 such throws.

Mark Simon also contributed research to this post

Burfict's impact on Bengals is unmatched

January, 3, 2013

Jason Bridge/USA TODAY SportsVontaze Burfict led the Bengals with 127 tackles this season.
Vontaze Burfict may have gone undrafted in 2012, but his performance and impact this season was nothing close to that of an undrafted rookie.

Despite not playing in Week 1, Burfict ended up logging the third-most snaps for a Cincinnati Bengals defensive player, and started every game from Weeks 3 to 17.

Burfict led the Bengals with 127 tackles this season, five more than Rey Maualuga, who was on field for 134 more plays. Burfict also led the team with 7.5 tackles for loss.

The 127 tackles were the 15th-most in the NFL this season, and ranked third amongst rookies. Only eight players had more tackles than Burfict after he earned the starting job in Week 3.

He saved his best effort for the final game of the season against the Baltimore Ravens, when he recorded 18 tackles in the 23-17 win. Only one player had more tackles in a game this season – London Fletcher with 20 against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 5.

Burfict’s undrafted status was in part due a poor combine performance, where he ran the 40-yard dash in 5.09 seconds. That time though was clearly not the best representation of his talent.

Of the players with a 40-yard dash time of 5.0 seconds or worse at the combine since 2006, Burfict is the only non-defensive lineman to have recorded a tackle this season.

Burfict’s presence on field made a notable difference for the Bengals this season. When Burfict was on field, the Bengals defense allowed 2.4 yards fewer per play compared to when he was off the field.

How big of an impact was that? There were 230 players this season who were on field for at least 500 plays and off the field for 100-or-more plays. In that sample, no player’s team took a bigger hit when going off field than the Bengals did with Burfict.