Manti Te'o's Instincts Will Allow LB to Shine Immediately for San Diego Chargers

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IApril 28, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 25: Manti Te'o of Notre Dame works out during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 25, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

There will continue to be questions asked about Manti Te'o's speed and whether he can keep up with opposing backs and receivers at the NFL level. But Te'o's instincts will make up for what he lacks in overall athleticism and allow him to answer those questions immediately in San Diego.

The Chargers drafted Te'o early in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft, taking him 38th overall.

The addition is a brilliant one for San Diego, a team that runs a 3-4 defensive scheme. Te'o should have a great shot at winning one of the two starting inside linebacker jobs next season. His ability to diagnose plays before they happen and his anticipation in passing situations make him a huge threat at the next level.

After all, Te'o recorded 113 total tackles and seven interceptions at middle linebacker for Notre Dame a season ago. That doesn't happen by accident.

San Diego won't have to worry about Te'o getting confused or looking lost out on the football field in big moments. Te'o displays tremendous awareness and can sense what the offense is doing before most other linebackers in this year's draft class can.

While he lacks speed in pursuit, Te'o is quick to react, and is usually three steps ahead in terms of positioning himself for a tackle. Plus, Te'o is an exceptional mover when it comes to covering the entire field sideline to sideline, making him a strong defender against the run.

Te'o's instincts also make him a defensive playmaker, capable of creating a big, momentum-shifting play.

I've already mentioned his seven interceptions in 2012. That impressive stat speaks to his incredible ball skills, and his ability to not only locate the ball, but look it in to his hands like a receiver. 

Te'o's innate playmaking ability is another reason why the Chargers can't wait to send him out on the field in 2013. While he does have to improve in some key areas such as building strength and being able to run with backs and tight ends at the highest level, it's Te'o's instinctive play that has put him on the map thus far. That is the reason the Chargers were willing to invest a second-round pick on him.


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