Tuesday, July 29, 2014         

 Print   Email   Comment | View 18 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

NFL Draft '13: When will Te'o be selected?

LAST UPDATED: 07:58 p.m. HST, Apr 22, 2013

NEW YORK » When it comes to the NFL draft, getting tricked into an online relationship with a girl that didn't exist ended up being the least of Manti Te'o's problems.

That stinker of a game he played against Alabama? Now that's an issue. Same goes for that less than blazing 40-yard dash he ran at the combine.

Considering all the news involving Te'o since the calendar flipped to 2013, it seems like forever since he was leading Notre Dame to the national title game, playing linebacker like an All-American and cleaning up on the college football awards circuit.

Combine the good, bad and bizarre, and when Te'o gets selected might be the most intriguing part of the NFL draft that starts Thursday in New York.

"There's no doubt he'll be one of the story lines of the night," said former NFL player personnel executive Phil Savage, who works as the executive director of the Senior Bowl.

It's unlikely that Te'o, who turned down a chance to attend the draft, will be off the board during the first 15 or so picks, but come the back-half of the first round, expect plenty of Te'o talk.

Te'o figured to be a highly scrutinized player heading into this draft even before he became a tabloid news and daytime talk show fixation.

The 6-foot-1, 240-pound middle linebacker was the unquestioned leader of a Notre Dame defense that ranked among the best in the country and propelled the Fighting Irish to an undefeated regular season.

Te'o led the team in tackles and made seven interceptions, more than any linebacker in the country. He finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, and took home a trophy case-full of other awards.

At his best, Te'o was being touted by some draft prognosticators as a high first-round pick.

Then Notre Dame played Alabama for the national championship.

The Crimson Tide crushed the Irish 42-14 in South Florida and Te'o looked overwhelmed facing Alabama's array of future NFL draft picks along the line and in the backfield.

You could practically hear Te'o tumbling down draft boards with every missed tackle.

"No question he played poorly against Alabama," NFL draft consultant and former Dallas Cowboys general manager Gil Brandt said.

Then things got weird. It was revealed that Te'o's girlfriend, who supposedly died during the season, never existed. He had been the victim of an elaborate hoax. Catfished.

Aside from being publicly humiliated, the episode called into question Te'o's character, which until then had seemed exemplary. It was another hit to his draft stock.

The final blow came at the combine, where Te'o ran the 40-yard dash in 4.82 seconds, making him one of the slowest linebackers there. He did better at Notre Dame's pro day about a month later, but the damage was done.

Te'o had seemingly gone from surefire first-rounder to maybe a second-round pick. Or at least that's the way it might have looked to those who follow the around-the-clock draft coverage on the Internet and TV these days.

Not so for Brandt, who has Te'o rated as the 20th-best player available.

"I wish he was just a little faster," Brandt said. Though his scouting report of Te'o also includes, "plays faster than his times."

Te'o's lack of straight-line speed could be a problem in man-to-man coverage, but both Brandt and Savage agree Te'o has shown good enough instincts to hold up well in zone coverage. As long he isn't limited to playing only running downs, Te'o can warrant a first-round selection.

"I think in some respects he's going to end up being drafted in the range that would have been expected regardless of what had transpired after the regular season," said Savage, who was general manager of the Browns from 2005-08 and also worked with the Ravens and Eagles.

"The vast majority of player personnel people saw him as a good player, but not as a great player."

Savage compared Te'o to D'Qwell Jackson of the Browns and DeMeco Ryans of the Eagles. Both were drafted early in the second round.

"(Te'o) did not have the explosive burst and hitting ability that you saw in Ray Lewis, Jon Beason, Jonathan Vilma or Luke Keuchly," Savage said.

Keuchly was taken ninth overall last season by Carolina and went on to become the defensive rookie of the year.

As far as character questions related to the fake girlfriend hoax, Brandt said that issue was put to rest when Te'o answered dozens of questions from reporters at the combine.

Brandt said he spent time with Te'o at the combine and came away impressed.

"I thought he was a very bright guy, quality individual. Everything about him I thought was upscale," Brandt said.

Savage said he didn't get a chance to meet Te'o, who turned down an invite to the Senior Bowl, but heard that his interviews with team officials at the combine went well - and that teams did plenty of digging into his background.

Bears GM Phil Emery told the Chicago Tribune: "I found Manti to be a very good person, a very squared-away guy."

Savage figures there will be an initial media "circus" for whatever team drafts Te'o, and that team needs a plan to deal with it. Some teams might not feel it's worth the hassle, but ultimately the decision on whether to draft Te'o won't be much different from any other prospect.

"The majority of teams have evaluated him," Savage said, "and if he is the next best player on their board when it's their pick, they'll take him."

 Print   Email   Comment | View 18 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
yrusodz wrote:
No way, he's proven himself to be a minor league player. He won't be competitive in the NFL so why waste time and money?
on April 22,2013 | 03:06AM
koolau wrote:
Perhaps what you say may be true. In farness though, look at all the number one picks in the past and recognize that most of them failed to live up to the hype. Then look at those picked in later rounds and how successful they became. The bottom line is that your opinion doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that Manti is selected and shows what he can do in playing conditions.
on April 22,2013 | 04:42AM
kahuku01 wrote:
Why so negative or is it just a matter of not caring for this young man. Let the NFL draft take its course whether he's drafted in the first round or later. He'll be the one to prove himself and hopefully you won't have to eat your words.
on April 22,2013 | 06:31AM
boshio wrote:
I feel that Manti has enough smarts to make it in the NFL. For now lets give him the benefit to prove himself. I'm sure he will do it whether drated or not.
on April 22,2013 | 07:50AM
pakeheat wrote:
Guys like you who open you're mouth before thinking, always saying negative things. Just wish the guy best of luck, okay?
on April 22,2013 | 07:48AM
turbolink wrote:
Wow, you sound just like Allie. Are you "compensated" to post too?
on April 22,2013 | 05:48PM
joewilly wrote:
Realistically he looks slow and pudgy. We will just have to let it all play out and see what happens. I personally see him as a second round pick.
on April 22,2013 | 06:44AM
loquaciousone wrote:
You better hurry to make your plane. Don't you have to be in New York by Wednesday?
on April 22,2013 | 07:41AM
joewilly wrote:
on April 22,2013 | 08:10AM
pakeheat wrote:
You want him to be a 4.40? LOL, get a grip
on April 22,2013 | 07:50AM
joewilly wrote:
Why do you people have to resort to nastiness when someone is just telling the truth?
on April 22,2013 | 08:07AM
pakeheat wrote:
Who you? go back to sleep
on April 22,2013 | 08:53AM
HOSSANA wrote:
One shouldn't make haste or rash judgments on Te'o. The only way one will ascertain Manti's playing ability is on the playing field so once he is drafted and it doesn't make a damm difference where or what round, he will get to show his skills on the playing field like every other draftee...its up to Manti to show people how good or bad he is when he straps on his equipment and get out there on the field. Nothing more and nothing less.
on April 22,2013 | 07:36AM
pakeheat wrote:
You one smart buggha, LOL
on April 22,2013 | 07:50AM
lowtone123 wrote:
That stinker of a game he played against Alabama? Now that's an issue. It's disturbing because Alabama has the talent that Te'o is likely to see at the next level. I hope he can make the transition to the NFL. Not huge upside but he could be a productive NFL starter for a long time. He has to be able to take on NFL centers and guards and not get pushed around and still be able to shed the block to make a play.
on April 22,2013 | 07:36AM
kahuku01 wrote:
IRTlowtone123: One stinker of a game against the highly talented Crimson Tide should be disturbing especially when everyone was expecting good things to happen from the Irish team. The fact of the matter is, this was a team effort and too much was expected from Manti and no question, he played poorly against Alabama and so did the rest of the team including the offensive unit. Alabama is the National college champions but they also had a bad game during the season after losing to Texas A&M and does that make their key players drop in the NFL draft? One man doesn't make a championship team and it just so happen that they lost bad and played bad but one bad game in the season shouldn't rate a player for going to the next level. Would your thoughts differ if the Irish (offensive unit excelled) had won by the score of 44-42 instead of losing 42-14? Even during the regular NFL season, the Super Bowl team 49ers lost bad to the Seattle Seahawks 42-13 and does that make the key players inefficient? One bad game in the whole season shouldn't generate such negative remarks against Manti and I only wish him the best and that he will be able to fulfill his Pro football dreams despite negative remarks from the anti Manti sports authorities.
on April 22,2013 | 11:59AM
loquaciousone wrote:
The NFL draft is about brawn power and not brain power. Manti can play in the NFL and that's all that matters.
on April 22,2013 | 07:39AM
pakeheat wrote:
Yes, give him the chance to prove himself
on April 22,2013 | 07:51AM
dlum003 wrote:
The whole hoax fiasco was a well timed and invaluable lesson for this young man and his family (especially his father). They both needed to gorge on a huge slab of humble pie and get back to where it counts: daily improvement ON THE FIELD. The false modesty and hubris were despicable, frankly put. Now that he's found out and stripped down, Te'o must rebuild from the ground up, and if they're smart, he and especially his father will put a sock in it as far as all the off the field hoopla and narcissism. The NFL will quickly expose, chew up, and spit out posers. He has a ton of work to do. Do I think he can succeed in the NFL? Two answers: 1) as a defensive centerpice, no. 2) as a role player with lots of other talent up front, maybe, but not for long.
on April 22,2013 | 08:33AM
jimbone wrote:
let the haters hate, After he's drafted it's all in HIS hands what we does. you gotta do what you gotta do to stay in the league. Good luck Manti, all you can do is do your best. and about the comments on the boards, ( If its from SOMEBODY it's something, if its from a NOBODY , it's nothing.)
on April 22,2013 | 08:39AM
mishtah wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on April 22,2013 | 10:04AM
kahuku01 wrote:
Ok I'm distracted (confused) by your comment about the really important question about the Boston bombings and its effects on Manti's position in the draft. Really, what are you trying to question? Please explain yourself or is this another one those weird fly by night comments?
on April 22,2013 | 11:28AM
pakeheat wrote:
on April 22,2013 | 12:19PM