Manti Te’o was once considered a sure fire top ten pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and now people question whether or not he would even be worth selecting in the first round. Te’o’s “catfish” situation has been well documented, he struggled in the National Championship game and to top everything off, he failed to impress at all at the Scouting Combine. His performance was so underwhelming that it prompted ESPN’s Mark May, per this article, to tweet “Any team that wastes a 1st round pick on Manti Te’o should fire their GM on draft day”.
Before struggling against Alabama in that Championship game, Te’o was touted as the number one inside linebacker in the draft and finished second for the Heisman to Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel. In his senior season at Notre Dame, Te’o accumulated over 100 total tackles, one and a half sacks, and all seven interceptions of his career. Obviously the stat that jumps out is the seven picks and while a lot of them were tipped passes it still shows that Te’o knows how to position himself to make plays. A lot has been made about the fact that Te’o ran a 4.82 forty and that he just didn’t’ look to be in great shape during drills.
I completely agree with any criticism that anyone wants to give about not being prepared for the combine because it really is just unacceptable for any prospect. Where I disagree is acting like Te’o all of a sudden became a terrible football player because he didn’t run as well. In comparison, the two other inside linebackers who have been projected to go in the first round, Alec Ogletree Georgia and Kevin Minter LSU, ran a 4.70 and 4.81 respectively. At this point I haven’t seen anyone talk about Minter falling much because of his less than great time and in fact many believe he could go ahead of Te’o in the draft.
Now that I have somewhat defended Manti Te’o and I do think he’ll end up in the first round let me say; I would not even look at him in the first round if I was the Steelers.
If he were to fall into the second round or even later like many people have started to predict then yeah I would at least consider taking him. I know many fans would be against that idea because the Steelers really need to make the most of their draft picks. I completely understand that thinking however, if the guy is there in the second, third or anywhere lower why not consider it? The Steelers last two linebackers James Farrior and Larry Foote were not burners by any means and yet both were able to turn into solid starters for the team. Without the pressure of being a first round pick he wouldn’t be expected to start day one and if he can just get past all the garbage he has taken, he could become a good linebacker.
I’m not saying Te’o would be my first choice for the Steelers though I wouldn’t be as opposed to the team taking a shot at him as long as it wasn’t in the first round.