Will Manti Te’o ever be that guy? I mean the guy you want anchoring your defense. Initial reactions to the San Diego Chargers’ second-round pick drew comparison to the famed and also Polynesian Junior Seau, who played middle linebacker for the Chargers for 13 seasons before moving on to Miami and New England.
The comparisons stop after unique last names. Seau was undoubtedly an anchor in every San Diego defense. Even during the twilight of his career in San Diego, Seau motivated and instilled a great work ethic into players like Rodney Harrison and LaDainian Tomlinson. He played with pure instinct and talent, leading to mixed reactions.
Te’o will never be Seau. Play in coverage — that’s Te’o. Blitz every time — that’s Seau.
As of right now, Te’o is starting to get through blocks and make sound decisions. He has a lot of growing up to do, but he is getting there. Right now, Donald Butler is that guy for the defense. Te’o drew the attention nationally when the Chargers moved up to get him in the second round. Being in a media outlet like in San Diego lets Te’o fly under the radar. The San Diego media isn’t a New York-like media market where constantly bringing up the past is the norm.
Te’o’s numbers aren’t there. Eric Weddle leads the team in tackles, whereas Te’o is eighth with 46. This team didn’t need another Seau. The Chargers needed a coverage guy in the middle who can play smart, which rush linebacker Melvin Ingram is not.
If Te’o can play in Seau’s town, no matter how big the shadow, he will have a decent career ahead of him. However, tomorrow is his time to keep the national conversation focused on his play on the field.