2013 NFL Draft: Why the Minnesota Vikings Should Stay Away from Manti Te'o

Giancarlo Ferrari-KingFeatured ColumnistApril 24, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 23: Manti Te'o of Notre Dame speaks to the media during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 23, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Manti Te'o's name has been linked to the Minnesota Vikings in recent weeks. Citing General Manager Rick Spielman's love for Notre Dame players, and the teams need for an inside linebacker, fans and analysts alike have projected Te'o to fall to the Vikings late in the first round of this year's draft.

With all of the Te'o speculation running wild, the question has to be asked, does this pick actually make sense for our beloved purple and gold franchise? Simply put, no it does not.

While Manti Te'o proved during his tenure at Notre Dame that he does possess great instincts and tremendous leadership traits, there seem to be too many question marks surrounding his game to make him worthy of a first-round selection.

Think about this: Since 2008, there have been 15 linebackers taken on day one of the draft—with Carolina Panthers rookie sensation Luke Kuechly being the most recent middle linebacker selected. Now, let me ask you, is Manti Te'o's name worth adding to that list?

For all of the positive aspects of his game, at his core Te'o still is a player who lacks top-end speed, elite finishing ability and next-level strength. All qualities a lot of those previous linebackers possessed.

Factoring out his off-field issues, if the Vikings were to seriously consider spending a first-round pick on Te'o, then they would have to be convinced that this kid's tape tells a dramatically different story than his horrendous showing at the NFL combine.

Aside from his dismal combine performance, off-field issues and game tape, one of the biggest reasons the Vikings should be wary about drafting Te'o is his glaring weakness to find the right playing weight.

Throughout the course of his decorated collegiate career, it seemed like Te'o always struggled to find a weight that fully complemented all aspects of his game. During his sophomore and junior campaigns, the 6'1" linebacker played at around 250 pounds, which helped him become a better finisher, a more physical presence and overall a better run-stopper.

But fast-forward to his senior year and Te'o, in hopes of becoming a more agile and quicker player, dropped his weight down into the 240-pound range. And sure, while there was a dramatic improvement in his speed and zone coverage skills, Te'o seemed to lack that physicality he had in seasons past.

Even at that lighter weight, Te'o still had issues covering tight ends and running backs—a scary prospect considering the NFL boasts quicker, stronger and more explosive players at each of those positions.

This issue of weight may slip under the radar when talking about Te'o as a player, but it's an incredibly alarming one nonetheless.

All in all, for a guy who carries a ton of baggage (fair or not), and possesses a relatively common skill set, Manti Te'o seems like a very dangerous choice for the Vikings in Round 1.

With the departure of Percy Harvin, and the addition of a second first-round draft choice, the Vikings have a real chance to make huge strides on both sides of the football. Selecting Manti Te'o could be tragic mistake that would make the Harvin deal look like a huge blunder a few years down the road.