Manti Te'o: 5 Things You Need to Know About the Notre Dame Linebacker
First off, the initial paragraph of this article will be the first and last time I even bring up the Catfish scandal. That has been overplayed so much. Instead, let's take a look at Manti Te'o the prospect and what to expect from him in the NFL.
As a four-year starter and team leader at Notre Dame, Te'o has as much experience as any defensive prospect in the entire draft class. In short, he has the ability to come in and be an above-average starter out of the gate.
Let's take a gander at what a team might be getting when Te'o is selected on the first or second day of the draft.
Matt Miller Breaks Down Manti Te'o
Full Name: Manti Malietau Louis Te'o (January 26, 1991)
Hometown: Laie, Hawaii
High School: Punahou High School in Honolulu, Hawaii
Major: Graphic Design
Te'o was the cream of the 2009 recruiting class. As the top defensive player in the nation that year, Te'o had no shortage of scholarship offers from top colleges. In the end, he chose Notre Dame over USC in what was a shock to recruiting experts over the world (via Los Angeles Times).
In addition to these awards, Te'o has been an academic standout. He finished his Notre Dame career with a 3.3 GPA and graduated in less than four years. Anyone who has ever played football while taking on a full slate of class has to know just how hard that is, especially at a school like Notre Dame.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
2009 (Freshman): 12 games, 63 tackles, 29 solo, 5.5 for loss and one sack.
2010 (Sophomore): 13 games, 129 tackles, 64 solo, 8.5 for loss and one sack.
2011 (Junior): 13 games, 128 tackles, 62 solo, 13.5 for loss and five sacks.
2012 (Senior): 13 games, 113 tackles, 55 solo, 5.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks and seven interceptions.
Manti Te'o started the third game of his freshman campaign and never looked back. He finished his Notre Dame career in the top 10 in terms of tackles and games started. He is only one of two Notre Dame players to have recorded 100-plus tackles in three consecutive seasons.
In addition, his trophy case doesn't seem to be lacking.
He was a consensus first-team All-American and winner of the Walter Camp Award as well as the Maxwell Award in 2012.
With this type of pedigree, it's easy to draw a conclusion that Te'o is one of the most accomplished players in the 2013 NFL draft.
All statistics provided by CFB Stats
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Weight: 241 pounds
Arm Length: 32 1/2"
Hand Size: 9 1/2"
Broad Jump: 113.0"
40-Yard Dash: 4.82
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.27
Three-Cone Drill: 7.13
Vertical Jump: 33.0"
Critics were quick to jump on Te'o following what has to be considered a substandard combine performance. He ran a 4.82-second 40-yard dash, which ranked him 20th among linebackers in that category.
In addition to that, Te'o just didn't look too great in the skill-specific drills. He struggled maintaining balance against blockers and just had a pedestrian overall performance.
Te'o did improve a great deal at his pro day.
He ran a 4.71 40-yard dash at that event, which compares favorably to "more athletic" linebackers such as Alec Ogletree and Khaseem Greene (courtesy of CNNSI).
We already knew that Te'o wasn't the most athletic linebacker in the class. To put it in simple terms, that's not his forte'.
Instead, he will get the tackles in between the hashes, quarterback the defense and be a leader on the field.
Remember, Luke Kuechly locked in at 4.77 on his second 40-yard dash at the 2012 combine. Speed isn't everything when it comes to scouting inside linebackers in the NFL (via Pro Football Weekly).
All combine numbers provided by NFL.com
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
At 15 years old, Manti Te'o was playing Pop Warner football as a 5'10", 160-pound middle schooler. Just imagine that for a second.
According to Biography.com, Te'o attended the same high school as President Barack Obama.
He is only one of two defensive players to finish second in the Heisman Trophy voting after he tallied a whopping 113 tackles and seven interceptions as a senior in 2012.
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
On the field, Manti Te'o is one of the most divisive prospects in the entire draft. While there are some sold on him as a first-round lock, others see the Notre Dame linebacker as a two-down linebacker in the NFL. Needless to say, those who fall in the latter category aren't too high on Te'o.
John Harbaugh said that he feels good about Manti Te'o as a player and a leader, and that he had a great interview with the Ravens.
Indeed, that's an interesting tweet for an NFL team to send out. While we aren't sure if that was a smokescreen or not, Baltimore does seem like a decent fit.
Ed Werder over at ESPN seems to believe that teams are looking at Te'o as a possible first-round pick in the coming draft:
This fits neatly into Baltimore's earlier tweet. Teams that could take a shot on Te'o in the latter half of the initial round include the Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens, all of whom are in need of help at inside linebacker.
As it is, I don't see Te'o waiting until the second day to hear his name called.
Vincent Frank is an NFL featured columnist here at Bleacher Report. Vincent is the head sports editor over at eDraft, co-host of Draft Sports Radio, which airs every Monday and Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m. ET, and a fantasy writer for Pro Football Focus.
Go ahead and give him a follow on Twitter @VincentFrankNFL.