Notre Dame inside linebacker Manti Te’o, surrounded by controversy off the field with his hoax dead girlfriend story, had the chance to put that aside and focus on football at the NFL Combine this past weekend.
Needing to show that the BCS National Championship game performance was that of a fluke and not the kind of player he will be in adversity, Te’o disappointed everyone.
Te’o ran a disappointing 4.82 second 40-yard dash, potentially dropping his draft stock even further than the hoax story has, from projected early-first round pick to a middle of the pack second round selection.
That time put him near the end of all linebackers, 20 out of 26, but it wasn’t just the 40-yard dash that was disappointing.
Te’o participated in five of the seven combine drills and failed to rank in the top-5 of any of them. For someone who’s draft stock had been so high just a few months ago, this is a devastating drop.
Maybe it was the American’s public love of such a heart-warming story that allowed Te’o’s abilities to shine brighter, playing in games after his grandmother and “girlfriend” had died. Te’o is definitely an above average linebacker, recording 101 tackles, 1.5 sacks and seven interceptions in 2012, but there are better picks for teams needing to draft a linebacker.
Georgia inside linebacker Alec Ogletree was a monster for Georgia’s defense after missing four games in the beginning of the season due to a failed drug test. In his 2012 season, he recorded 111 tackles, three sacks and an interception, guiding him to the top position for linebackers in the draft.
Kevin Minter, Louisiana State University’s top inside linebacker, is another product of a consistent NFL producing team. Recording 130 tackles, four sacks, an interception and fumble, Minter helped lead a dominating line, and is known for his speed and hard hits.
Te’o will have a NFL career, when and where he is selected in the draft is another story. Though as we have seen throughout the history of the draft, where you are selected is not indicative of potential success, thank you Tom Brady for proving that point.
An American public looking to hang its hat on such an inspirational story of Manti Te’o and all that he overcame throughout the year, made an average player blow up into what many thought was the next great of the NFL. We all got hoaxed, and Te’o has fallen back to Earth with the numbers he has produced at both the Combine and Championship game.