The Bears could not reach an agreement with Brian Urlacher in March, so there's a hole in Chicago's defense at inside linebacker. Given Urlacher's decline and injury problems, even with him on the team, the position was a bit of a sore spot.
This has led many to believe the Bears will go after a middle linebacker in the first round. Of the options available, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com believes Te'o is the top target:
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
Watching @StaceyDales say she believes via source #Bears will take Manti Te'o at LB if he's available. Matches what I have been hearing.4/25/2013, 7:17:29 PM
It's unfair to distill Te'o's entire career into one game and judge him by what was arguably the worst performance of his decorated career at Notre Dame.
On the other hand, that hasn't stopped people from using the clip of Bo Jackson running over Brian Bosworth to sum up Bosworth's NFL career. Much like Te'o, Bosworth was a heralded college player. When he got to the NFL, it was clear he wouldn't live up to the hype.
Bosworth was a result of a hype machine that he and those around him started, which the media was all too happy to fuel. You could say the same arguably been done with Te'o.
That image of Jackson getting into the end zone broke what was Bosworth's facade of being this superhuman linebacker. And that's a bit of what that Alabama game has done for Te'o.
Perhaps Te'o is lucky it happened in college, so fans and experts could soften their expectations of the player when he eventually gets drafted.
The national championship was the biggest game of his life, and the spotlight couldn't have been any brighter. Unfortunately, Te'o was a step too slow and couldn't tackle. He was dreadful.
In the following months, Te'o continued his downward slide.
He was horrible at the combine and didn't run all that much better at his pro day. The NFL is becoming faster and faster. As a result, teams want athletes on their defense. Te'o doesn't look like one of those explosive guys.
The problem isn't that Te'o is going to be a huge bust. He can be a productive player in the league. But you look at guys like Alec Ogletree, Kevin Minter and Arthur Brown and see better overall athletes with higher ceilings.
The NFL is a results-based, win-now business, so maybe Chicago values Te'o's immediate production more heavily. In four or five years, though, you're going to see possibly all three of those guys overtake Te'o.
It's just not worth it to take Te'o with the 20th pick, if he's the first middle linebacker to come off the board.