Green Bay Packers: Is Manti Te'o the Best Choice in the First Round?

Travis WakemanCorrespondent IIFebruary 24, 2013

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 07:  Manti Te'o #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish warms up prior to playing against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game at Sun Life Stadium on January 7, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Holding the 26th pick in the first round of April's NFL Draft, is there any way that the Green Bay Packers could wind up with Manti Te'o?

Shortly after news broke of the hoax involving his alleged girlfriend, Te'o was seemingly slipping down draft boards. Once figured a sure top-10 pick, it looked as though he might not even be the first player selected at his own position, middle linebacker.

But during a press conference Te'o held at the NFL scouting combine (see attached video), it appeared he is ready to put the incident behind him and just focus on football.

Te'o seemed to handle himself quite well during the nearly 15-minute press conference, fielding a wide range of questions from reporters and impressively never taking pity on himself. Asked what the worst part of the ordeal was, Te'o could only think of the harm it caused for his family and that there was nothing he could do about that.

Onto the football side of things. Te'o is an excellent run defender and tackler. He will need to prove that he can play pass coverage at the pro level, but he was adequate in college. Most importantly, he is a leader, the type that a defense can rally around. The runner-up for the Heisman trophy, Te'o was tied for the most interceptions in the nation with seven.

Do the Packers have a need at the position? In a word, yes. Desmond Bishop and D.J. Smith will both be coming off an injury. Bishop didn't play a single down in 2012.

Brad Jones played well as a fill-in, collecting 77 tackles and forcing a fumble. However, Te'o would be a far superior player. Plus, selecting Te'o would allow the Packers to part ways with A.J. Hawk, a player who has severely under-performed.

During his press conference, Te'o was asked if he had been contacted by any teams. He named two and one of those was the Packers. There might not be anything to that, but Green Bay at least has an initial interest.

The Packers need to shore up their offensive line and get a few more weapons on offense, especially if they lose wide receiver Greg Jennings.

But should Te'o still be on the board when they come up at No. 26, they will have to strongly consider selecting a man who is still one of the best players in this draft, despite all the hoopla.

Seeing Te'o on the same field with Clay Matthews would be a very scary thing for opposing offenses.