I’m sure all football fans and non-football fans alike (do they exist?) have heard of Manti Te’o. If not, he’s the catfished-Notre Dame-linebacker-that-is-now-known-for-all-the-wrong-reasons guy. Said guy is trying to get into the NFL but had a disappointing performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, one being a very slow 40-time. Te’o ran a slow 4.82 40-yard dash, which no doubt hurt his draft stock.
Well, on Tuesday, he might have boosted it a bit. According to ESPN’s Todd McShay, the former Notre Dame linebacker improved his 40-time at Notre Dame’s pro day. He clocked in at 4.75 and 4.71, a definite improvement from his 4.82 showing at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
I had Te’o 40 times at 4.75 and 4.71.Good times.Lines up a lot more accurately with tape IMO.
— Todd McShay (@McShay13) March 26, 2013
NFL analyst Mike Mayock predicted his 40-yard improvement will help his stock that would push his status as a late first-round pick in this year’s NFL draft. “I would expect him to be drafted somewhere in the (No.) 20 to 32 range,” said Mayock.
But can that really be true? Will that less than one single second make all the difference between him being a first-rounder and a late round pick?
There are other questions and concerns in Te’o's game that indicates otherwise.
His on-field liabilities go well beyond his catfishing days and his 40-yard dash. He struggles to shed blocks from more powerful offenses—just look at his disastrous performance against Alabama in the BCS Championship game. Te’o also tends to struggle in pass coverage and also isn’t too quick. At least not as quick as teams would like to see out of a first-round linebacker.
As mentioned before, he struggles with shedding second-level blocks and also has difficulty, at times, peeling off blocks at the line. At times, Te’o also lacks force when hitting running lanes and can get bulldozed over. The linebackers tackling form is also suspect; Te’o has shown he doesn’t wrap up often and just takes dives, which will be a big problem at the next level.
Te’o's talent wasn’t always in question; in High School, Te’o was a one of the top High School recruits. He was also a star at Notre Dame. In 2009, he started 10 games as a true freshman, and from 2010-12 he amassed over 100 tackles. Te’o reads gaps well, and shows he’s a good player in space when he gets a head start from his pre-snap reads. He has good on-field awareness and is able to sift through a crowd to get to running backs on outside runs.
NFL teams have to wonder: what will they get if they select Manti Te’o in the draft?
Can Te’o effectively match up with the speed of the new NFL era?