The 2012 NFL football season is coming to a close soon after the 49ers and the Ravens meet in Super Bowl XLVII. So it is time to start looking forward to next season and the upcoming NFL draft.
This past season I had the honor of giving the readers of Fantasy Knuckleheads my team defense rankings each week. In doing so I paid a lot of attention to each NFL team's defensive personnel and schemes. So in the off season I am going to do some write ups on some of the big names coming into the draft that should have immediate impact on a NFL team's defense. Who better to start with then the now controversial Manti Te'o.
Manti Te'o was without a doubt the leader of the top ranked defense in college football and had a very strong season at the middle linebacker position. Numbers don't lie so let's take a quick look at Te'o's senior season
Very impressive numbers but the main concern with Te'o is how his numbers will translate to the NFL once he starts playing against elite competition.
Now unless you have been living under a rock for the past week you've heard about Manti Te'o's off the field issues. I don't want to dwell on that due to the fact I don't really think it will hurt his draft stock. I personally believe it might make a couple of teams thinking a little longer and a little harder about drafting Te'o but overall I think Manti just made the interview process of the draft more difficult for himself. The thing that would hurt Manti Te'o's draft stock is his performance in the BCS National Championship game versus Alabama. Te'o didn't really show up in the big game and it seems like anytime we saw Te'o it was when Eddie Lacy was running him over or Te'o was completely messing up his assignment.
The Alabama game hurts because many scouts and "experts" believe it was the first time Manti Te'o was up against NFL caliber talent and he failed......horribly. The blow out doesn't all fall completely on Te'o but it didn't help that ND's stand out linebacker failed to show up on the biggest stage in college football. Before the National Championship game a scout wrote this on Te'o "A strong, reliable and fundamentally sound tackler. A thumper that flashes ability to run through tackles and deliver heavy hit. Does a nice job of wrapping up upon contact and can lasso ball carriers at the legs. Takes good angles in pursuit and shows very good body control in space as a tackler. During film study it was few and far between him missing tackles he should make." I have a feeling some might have changed their opinion a little about his tackling ability after the Alabama game.
Manti Te'o is a ball hawk with 7 INT's this past year to show for it and in some of the defensive schemes NFL teams like to run (Cover 2, mainly) A quick, athletic MLB who is able to defend the pass is exactly what is needed. So with that being said this limits the field of teams that would want to take a shoot on Te'o.
I don't believe Te'o will be a top 10 pick, I don't even think he'll be the first linebacker taken (Alec Ogletree, Georgia) but I do think Manti Te'o will be a first round pick. I could see Te'o ending up in San Diego (11th), Chicago (20th) and if Te'o does go in the top 10 I could see it being Buffalo with the 8th pick.
Manti Te'o will need to have a good combine to secure his 1st round status. His current 40 time on record is 4.8 that will need to improve in order for a team to spend first round money on Te'o. I don't think he will fit that well in a 3-4 scheme so look for teams that need a quick, athletic linebacker in a 4-3 system to roll the dice on Te'o. Te'o is one hell of a football player and I believe he will make a good 4-3 linebacker somewhere.