As if the Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax and his performance in the BCS National Championship Game against Alabama were not enough, Te'o's slow 40 time should drop him even further down draft boards.
NFL team scouts and front offices already view Te'o as a wild-card player and question his trustworthiness and leadership off the field.
Yet, the girlfriend hoax and poor national championship game performance are topics of the past and Te'o has addressed both issues constantly during media sessions by fielding every question thrown his way. Teams have had enough time to investigate Te'o's off-field concerns and analyze those factors into his draft stock.
Now, Te'o has disappointed again with a slow 40 time of 4.82 seconds which was good for a lowly 20th out of 26 linebackers who participated in the 40-yard dash at the 2013 NFL combine. Te'o's slow 40 time is another major concern because it is a direct on-field matter that shows his limitations as a middle linebacker.
The time of 4.82 seconds means that Te'o lacks the physical explosiveness with his feet that linebackers need at the NFL level.
The biggest concern of Te'o's speed is his ability to cover receivers or tight ends when in coverage.
According to Todd McShay of ESPN.com, "While the 4.82 doesn't tell us anything definitive, it does raise concerns about him being able to match up one-on-one in coverage. We had those concerns about him coming into the 2012 season."
Middle linebackers are required to be able to drop into coverage with the NFL becoming such a passing league. Te'o's 40 time could mean that he does not have the acceleration and top speed needed to stick with players in coverage which could absolutely turn into a liability for an NFL team.
Luckily, Te'o does play faster than his 40 time suggests thanks to his undeniably quick football instincts and on-field intelligence. So this could help to steady his draft stock.
Nonetheless, Te'o's 40 time should be a red flag of concern. With everyone on offense getting faster including linemen and scrambling quarterbacks, a middle linebacker needs to find ways to shoot the gap, elude blocks and have quick closing speed to make tackles and stick with receivers.
Te'o's 40 time shows that he currently does not have the adequate quickness to play middle linebacker every down.
McShay also says about Te'o and his draft potential, "You don't draft a middle linebacker if you're concerned about keeping him on the field at all times. So, he needs to trim that 40 time down."
Te'o has the time to work on his 40 time at Notre Dame's pro day and in other workouts which with an improvement in his time, Te'o can boost his draft stock.
Right now, Te'o's 40 time is not good enough for a middle linebacker.
Te'o makes up for the lack of speed in instincts and football intelligence and it should be enough to hold his place in the first round. But, if Te'o does not put up a faster time in the next few weeks, he will slide further toward the end of the first round of the 2013 NFL draft.
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