Former Notre Dame Fighting Irish All-American linebacker Manti Te'o improved on his heavily scrutinized 40-yard dash time at his pro day in South Bend on Tuesday. However, that should not be a significant factor in determining where he is selected in the 2013 NFL draft.
ESPN's Todd McShay timed Te'o and noted that it appeared to be a more accurate reflection of what he saw in film study:
Todd McShay @McShay13
I had Te'o 40 times at 4.75 and 4.71. Good times. Lines up a lot more accurately with tape IMO.2013-3-26 16:14:35
It was roughly a one-tenth-of-a-second improvement on his time of 4.82 at the NFL Scouting Combine, but it shouldn't be read into too much. The enhanced time can be better attributed to a less stressful environment and simply practicing the technique of the short spring itself.
After all, Te'o himself admitted to reporters to being more comfortable at Notre Dame once he was finished with his workout, according to ESPN.
As smart of a football player as Te'o has proven to be, being in the proper position can offset the lack of speed that he possesses. That is the big question teams will have to answer for themselves when evaluating him.
Plenty of linebackers have made a big impact in the NFL without running a sensational 40 time. St. Louis Rams middle linebacker James Laurinaitis ran a 4.82 at the 2009 combine—identical to what Te'o ran on Tuesday.
New England Patriots inside LB Brandon Spikes ran a 5.0 flat, and Vontaze Burfict, who went undrafted, wound up being a massive impact player for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2012 as a rookie despite a 5.1 40.
As long as players are able to take the proper pursuit angles, have a talented supporting cast around them or even improve as they get stronger and train for football as a full-time profession, it is possible to thrive even if measurable dimensions and timed drills aren't quite up to snuff.
Te'o may have hurt his intangibles since leaving Notre Dame for reasons unnecessary to articulate here. But as far as what he brings to the gridiron, his natural instincts, coverage ability and football IQ are difficult to question.
In today's game, it's easy to argue that shooting for a speedier linebacker corps is the sound personnel strategy, because players at all positions are only getting bigger, faster and stronger thanks to training and dietary innovations.
But Laurinaitis, Spikes and Burfict seem to be continually shattering that mold.
Just because Te'o can't get off the blocks as quickly as some on an incredulously eyeballed sprint that lasts a matter of moments doesn't mean NFL success is unfeasible.