Close Article Return to stream X
NFL

Manti Te’o: 2013 NFL Draft Scouting Report

+Read full article

Manti Te’o — linebacker, Notre Dame.

What I like  — without a doubt  Te’o has become one of the most discussed and controversial players in this entire NFL draft, but none of what I have to discuss here have anything to do with his fake girlfriend, or all the other catfish nonsense.

This is about him as a football player, and there are some things about Te’o to really like. First, he’s physical. If you look at where Te’o makes plays, you can draw a square from the line of scrimmage tackle to tackle back about eight or nine yards, and that’s where Te’o is at his best.

He is one of the smartest and most instinctive linebackers in this draft, and it shows in the number of big plays he makes. It’s not because he’s the most athletic player on the field — it’s because his football IQ is high. He takes excellent angles to the football, rarely makes a misstep and when he gets to the football, he’s a sure tackler.

Going back to the physical side of his game, Te’o can and will engage and shed blockers. He’s got a strong upper body and uses good leverage to clear players out of the way. Some linebackers like to avoid contact, and that forces them to take bad angles at times and they use their speed to make up for it.

Te’o is the opposite. He goes where the ball is, and works to clear out whoever is in his way. For plenty of defensive schemes, he’s a much better fit because of it.

What I don’t like — Te’o isn’t a great athlete, and because of that, he’s going to be scheme-limited. A statistic that many point to are the number of interceptions Te’o was able to get, but that number is misleading in that most of those plays were on overthrows and tipped passes.

The good news is that it shows he can play the short zones and has decent hands. The bad news is he’s not good in man coverage and isn’t fluid enough to turn and run with backs or tight ends. In today’s NFL, there are more and more teams incorporating two tight end sets, so to use the football cliché, Te’o is likely a two-down linebacker who will come off the field on passing downs.

He’s not fluid in his hips and without any long speed, he would be a liability against today’s NFL athletes. You saw it in the BCS Championship game, where the speed of Alabama left him flat-footed at times, unable to contend with superior speed and quickness.

What it all means — where Te’o is going to be drafted will depend largely on what a team wants out of their inside linebacker. If the team runs a 3-4 base defense and is looking for a run-stuffing two-down linebacker that can be in the box making plays, then Te’o can be that guy.

Te’o gets a lot of heat for the national championship game, and rightfully so, but his career — in particular his senior season — was tremendous. I have no qualms about recommending Te’o to a 3-4 as a part of the puzzle at linebacker. He’s the type of physical in the box linebacker who can help keep safeties back out of the box and protect them, so they can focus on coverage.

The old school term for this type of linebacker is a “thumper” and there’s nothing wrong with having a good thumper on a roster.  I am not sure if I would draft a two-down inside linebacker with a first-round pick in a draft class that is this deep and this talented, but it’s very fair to consider a player with this much football acumen, great physical build and solid fundamentals as a high second-round pick.

His 40 times doesn’t matter, his fake girlfriend doesn’t matter. Te’o is a solid football player in a draft that doesn’t have a ton of talent at inside linebacker, so don’t be at all shocked if he goes even earlier than anyone expects.

Curt covers the Pittsburgh Steelers, the NFL draft, and college football for Rant Sports. Connect with Curt on Twitter @nfldraftboard.

Your Favorites
 
 
Close Article Return to stream X
NFL Videos

Cam Newton Walks Out of Post Game Press Conference

After losing the Super Bowl Panthers quarterback Cam Newton prematurely exits the post- game press conference. After sitting at the press conference somberly for about 3 minutes ignoring questions he got up and left. At one point he did say “We’ll be back” but didn’t provide any other information. It looks like Cam is taking the loss pretty hard!

Comment 0 Comments
 
 
Close Article Return to stream X
NFL Videos

Josh Norman Breaks Down in Tears After Losing Super Bowl 50

Carolina Panthers defensive back Josh Norman breaks down in tears after losing Super Bowl 50. After having a tremendous season and playing his heart out in the Super Bowl the loss of 24-10 was devastating. As the clock wound down to zero cameras found a wrecked Norman on the sidelines.

Comment 0 Comments
 
 
Close Article Return to stream X
NFL Videos

Marshawn Lynch Retires From the NFL

Marshawn Lynch’s career as an NFL player appears to be over. He announced his retirement from the NFL in his own customarily unique way. Marshawn tweeted a peace emoji with a picture of his cleats suspended from a telephone wire inferring that he will be hanging them up for good.

Comment 0 Comments
 
 
Close Article Return to stream X
NFL Videos

Super Bowl 50 Highlights: Broncos vs Panthers

If this is Peyton Manning’s final game he’ll ride off into the sunset on top. The Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50 24-10 on Sunday behind their incredible defense especially the pass rush from linebackers Von Miller (who made two big plays) and DeMarcus Ware. Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers’ offense looked stunned unable to create much of anything under constant pressure. Lets take a look at the best highlights from the big game. Cam Newton got an early taste of what Tom Brady felt in the AFC Championship Game two weeks ago.

Comment 0 Comments
 
 
Close Article Return to stream X
NFL Videos

Tom Brady Gets Booed During Super Bowl MVP Ceremony

Tom Brady was shown no love during the Super Bowl MVP ceremony prior to the kickoff of Super Bowl 50. The New England Patriots quarterback whose won three MVPs in the big game was booed heavily when he was introduced as part of the Super Bowl 50 pregame ceremony honoring past Super Bowl MVPs. Most players were applauded as they were introduced to the 70000 fans but not Brady he wasn't given a very warm welcome from the pro-Broncos crowd.

Comment 0 Comments