Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o was selected by the San Diego Chargers in today’s second round of the National Football League draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handed former Chargers defensive back Jim Hill the card to make the announcement, Goodell said, “You’re going to get a big cheer when you announce this pick.” It was more a mix of surprise and recognition of the most talked-about player in the draft finally finding a landing spot at No. 38 overall.
The Chargers traded with Arizona Cardinals to get the 38th pick and land Te’o.
“I did expect to go in the first round,” Te’o said. “But things happened and all it did was give me more motivation.”
Te’o, a star linebacker at Notre Dame and a Heisman Trophy finalist, was projected to be selected in Thursday’s first round, with teams such as the Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens reportedly showing interest.
He was ranked as the 17th-best player by NFL Draft expert and ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. entering Thursday’s draft.
Many had Te’o as the top-rated linebacker, ahead of Alec Ogletree, who was selected by the St. Louis Rams with the 30th pick.
One of the teams that needed to fill the inside linebacker spot was the Vikings. But Minnesota, which entered the day with two first-round picks and acquired a third first-rounder, passed on Te’o all three times.
The Vikings instead selected defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (23rd), cornerback Xavier Rhodes (25th) and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (29th).
Te’o, a 2009 Punahou School graduate from Laie, is the most decorated college football player, winning seven of the major awards, such as the Maxwell, Walter Camp, Bednarik, Nagurski and Butkus awards.
However, an online hoax regarding the death of a fake girlfriend swallowed Te’o into a swirl of controversy and his popularity and reputation took a major hit.
The downward spiral continued when Te’o didn’t perform well during the NFL combine in February, running the 40-yard dash — the league’s basic measure for speed and quickness — in 4.82. But Te’o improved his mark to 4.71 during a Notre Dame pro day a month later.
The draft continues today with the second and third rounds. The fourth and seventh rounds will close out the draft on Saturday.
The draft was heavy in offensive linemen. The Kansas City Chiefs, owner of the No. 1 overall pick, selected 6-foot-7, 306-pound Eric Fisher from Central Michigan. Jacksonville selected Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel second.
In all six of the first 11 picks were offensive linemen.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.