Remember when Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o was a lock to be a top-10 pick in the 2013 NFL draft?
In the fast-paced world of draft speculation, that may seem like ages ago. The Heisman Trophy finalist now faces a drastically different prospect for April’s event.
A dismal performance in the National Championship game against Alabama started his slide down draft boards. His fall from grace picked up speed when Deadspin.com broke the infamous Lennay Kekua story, and a 4.82 second 40-yard dash at the combine has been another hit to his draft stock.
Now, ESPN’s John Clayton believes that Te’o may not even go in the first round come draft day, and he questions whether or not the linebacker should witness his slide first-hand.
The silver lining in this is Te’o is finally facing an easy decision; he should stay home with his family on April 25.
He may be the most high-profile player in this year’s draft class, but the attention he will be attracting if he shows up at Radio City Music Hall will be all negative.
Think back to Aaron Rodgers’ mortified expression during the 2005 draft. If Te’o does make the trip to Manhattan, he would face an even worse situation.
Rodgers had a legitimate shot at being the No. 1 overall pick that season, and falling all the way to No. 24 invoked sympathy from those watching.
What hurt Manti Te'o's draft stock the most?
Right now, many football fans still aren’t entirely sure what to make of Te’o. The fake Twitter girlfriend saga is something strange and new, and it will undoubtedly be a subject of conversation among pundits as the camera closes in on Te’o waiting for his name to be called.
And he will certainly have to wait. Even if he does get drafted on the first day, it is likely that he will be one of the last few picks of the opening round.
Sitting there while commentators discuss his embarrassing social media ordeal, question his physical skills and doubt his decision to show up for the draft is not an ideal way to start his NFL career.
There is absolutely nothing Te’o can gain by showing up to the draft, and he risks putting himself in a humiliating position.
While there is no way to avoid all the negative attention, staying out of the middle of New York City would be an easy way for Te’o to steer clear of the media firestorm that would undoubtedly hit if he were present on draft day.