2013 Atlanta Falcons Potential Draft Pick Profile: LB Manti Te'o
Manti Te'o is very possibly someone who the Atlanta Falcons could end up taking in the NFL Draft. However, it doesn't seem likely compared to how he plays on the field. Then again, according to Fox 5 Atlanta, the Falcons have brought him in for an interview:
Follow along as we explore how Manti Te'o could possibly fit the Falcons:
University of Notre Dame
Height: 6'1-1/4" Weight: 241 pounds
Arm Length: 32-1/2" Hand Measurement: 9-1/2"
40 yard dash: 4.75 sec. 10 yard split: 1.63 sec.
20 yard shuttle: 4.27 sec. 3-cone Drill: 7.13 sec. Bench Reps: 21 reps
Vertical Jump: 33.0" Broad Jump: 9'5"
2012: 13 Games Played, 113 Tackles, 5.5 Tackles for Loss, 1.5 Sacks, 4 QB Hurries, 7 Interceptions, 1 Fumble Recovered, 4 Pass Deflections
2011: 13 Games Played, 128 Tackles, 13.5 Tackles for Loss, 5.0 Sacks, 4 QB Hurries, 1 Fumble Forced, 2 Pass Deflections
2010: 13 Games Played, 129 Tackles, 8.5 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sacks, 3 QB Hurries, 1 Fumble Forced, 3 Pass Deflections
2009: 12 Games Played, 63 Tackles, 5.5 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sacks, 1 QB Hurry, 1 Pass Deflection
Manti Te'o is ridiculously great at stopping the run. He can thump like the rest of them and take on almost anyone in a one-on-one block-shedding situation. Though he will always have trouble with the powerhouses like Chance Warmack because of his smaller stature for a thumping LB, he's effective at shedding normal blockers.
In pass rush, Te'o is extremely effective at shooting the gaps created for him by the defensive linemen; in coverage, he can play a really effective mid-short central zone and is opportunistic with the ball in the air. He can deliver great pop when tackling as well.
Manti Te'o can cover short easily. However, he has no propensity for a deeper zone or in man coverage. The Falcons would need him to be much more effective in coverage than he is. He also isn't a great athlete needed for a 4-3 and doesn't have great strength or size for a 3-4.
Honestly, Manti Te'o doesn't provide much more than what Akeem Dent or Curtis Lofton would. He's not a great fit for the Falcons' defensive need at coverage linebacker. He could be a great long-term starter if he can end up playing defensive tackle in the nickel sets and be effective at doing it. But honestly, he seems to be a due diligence player.
How does he fit the Comrade Filter?
Manti Te'o is well known for the Catfishing incident behind Lennay Kekua. However, his off-the-field qualities shouldn't be affected by this. He's never been arrested or suspended and is known as a leader within the locker room. He was the captain of the Notre Dame defense (h/t USA Today's Paul Myerberg).
He was definitely one of the biggest motivators on their BCS National Championship-game run. Unfortunately, he was out of it for the actual game, but the Notre Dame defense was arguably the best run defense all season due to his leadership.
How he would fit into the Falcons' plans
Unless the Falcons don't think that Akeem Dent can be the answer as a thumping middle linebacker, Te'o won't be selected. It would likely require their first-round pick or a trade down to the early second and even then, it'd be smarter for the Falcons to select a cornerback like Johnthan Banks or Darius Slay instead.
All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus's Premium Stats, ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All contract information is courtesy Spotrac. All recruiting rankings come from 247Sports.com.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.
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