Manti Te’o ran what was one of the most anticipated 40-yard dashes in recent memory. The former Notre Dame defensive stud underwhelmed for teams present in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine, plummeting his draft stock.
After his Pro Day, Te’o slightly improved his times from his previous attempts. Te’o was unofficially clocked at 4.71 seconds, one-tenth of a second faster than his Combine number of 4.82. Though there is improvement in the times, unofficial times clocked by hand tend to be significantly faster than the official times registered electronically.
While the improvement is a step in the right direction, this does not mean that Te’o has seen his stock skyrocket as a result. The run still proves that the Notre Dame prospect still lacks elite explosiveness that many scouts thought he had earlier in the college football season. Pair these poor Combine performances with a disastrous showing in the National Championship game against Alabama, and many fans will tell you that Te’o is not worthy of a first-round selection. Don’t even get them started about the fake-girlfriend hoax.
Still, despite sub-par performances in perhaps his biggest job interview, Te’o feels confident in his body of work.
“I was very pleased with how I performed,” Te’o told the Chicago Times. “I just expected to run faster than I did at the combine, and that’s exactly what I did.”
Never has one player been so scrutinized when it comes to the pre-draft process. While I agree that Te’o was overrated during his senior season at Notre Dame, his intangibles and nose for the football will make him a valuable asset to some team willing to take the chance on him.
Mock Drafts have the linebacker projected anywhere from the middle of round 1 through as late as the early second round. Ideally, Te’o should be grabbed no earlier than around the 20th overall pick. There are several solid linebackers in this draft and defense is sure to dominate the first round. If scouts feel that Te’o lacks the ability to perform at the next level, there are several other candidates that could prevent him hearing his name called on Day 1 at the NFL Draft at New York City’s Radio Music Hall.
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