Manti Te'o: Notre Dame's Linebacker Would Make an Immediate Impact in Detroit
Manti Te'o has been the core of Notre Dame's success in 2012. He is a huge reason why they will be playing Alabama in the BCS National Championship game on January 7th.
Te'o possesses the complete package: leadership, skill, speed, strength and athleticism. He stands at 6'1" and weighs 248 pounds.
He has the ability to conduct jaw-dropping hits which can bring endless momentum to any sideline.
He led all FBS linebackers with seven interceptions. In just 12 games, he recorded 101 tackles, 46 of which were solo.
He's a reliable tackler who can cover the full width of the field. He's quick to recognize play-action fakes, screens, and draw plays. He can even drop back into coverage and cover big tight ends.
What has impressed me the most while watching him at Notre Dame is Manti Te'o's ability to fend off blockers and get to the ball. He possesses these unique abilities which are difficult to find in a linebacker.
As he progresses through his career and receives NFL coaching, it will be scary to see how productive he can be. It's also key to note that the guy is very coachable.
What more can you want from a linebacker heading into the NFL?
The Detroit Lions sit at 4-11 right now and are projected to draft in the top five of the upcoming draft in April.
Their season could have easily gone a different route, but they have been unable to close out games.
The Lions often run a base 4-3 defense with Stephen Tulloch filling the middle linebacker position. Tulloch has been solid in 2012 with 105 tackles through 15 games.
Tulloch signed a five-year contract extension back in March so it is likely he won't be going anywhere anytime soon, but the Lions cannot pass up on Te'o assuming he's available at their draft position.
Te'o, also a middle linebacker, would immediately make the Lions front seven much better.
It would be wise, if they do choose Te'o, for the Lions to run a 3-4 defense. A 3-4 contains three defensive linemen and four linebackers, whereas the 4-3 contains four defensive linemen and three linebackers.
The 3-4 would showcase Tulloch and Te'o as inside linebackers while Justin Durant and DeAndre Levy would play on the outside.
It's nothing out of the ordinary these days to see a rookie linebacker make his presence known in the NFL. Carolina Panthers' rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly leads the league this year with 151 tackles and is making a solid case for defensive rookie of the year.
The Lions currently rank 26th in the NFL while giving up an atrocious 4.5 yards per attempt on the ground. Adding Te'o's run-stopping abilities would certainly help their case here. He is extremely quick to clog the hole and get to the ball carrier.
Imagine a defense with Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff Avril, Stephen Tulloch, and Manti Te'o. It would be pretty tough to run on.
As we have seen with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens in recent years, defense wins championships. The Lions already possess the offensive talent that could lead them to the Super Bowl, but improving their defense with a guy like Te'o would immediately raise their chances.
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