Todd McShay, ESPN’s young alternative to their draft statesman Mel Kiper, stated when the Manti Te’o story broke that he did not see a scenario where Te’o would fall out of the first round. He has since gone on to say that if Te’o were a victim and simply a naive college senior, this will not hurt his draft stock. If Todd McShay believes that, he is as ignorant as Te’o.
The most recent comments from McShay show he is being a little more vague on where he places Te’o. However, he indicates that the severe scrutiny of NFL teams will ultimately allow some satisfaction to come on the issue, and the damage to the Notre Dame linebacker will be minimal. Not likely.
NFL scouts and teams are a nervous bunch. They take a risk if they see something in the overall talent of a player, or even a particular skill set (speed, size, etc.), or if they feel confident they understand the issue and can overcome the problem when the player is a part of their organization.
Manti Te’o is no such talent. And his top skill set (character/leadership) seems, at the moment, to be about as existent as his girlfriend, and his problem is not one that can be easily understood. For NFL teams looking at Te’o, they will have to consider that he is an above-average but not elite talent at middle linebacker who got abused on the biggest stage of his career. Then, depending on the outcome of how this story unfolds, they will be forced to weigh either his emotional maturity, stability, and gullibility or his complete lack of character and insecurity.
They will have to contemplate how this player will fit into their locker room, and they will have to weigh that. In addition, middle linebacker is not a position that is typically drafted high, and Te’o does not stand out too far ahead of the pack from a talent standpoint.
If Randy Moss, a once-in-a-generation talent at the wide receiver position, can slide to #21 in the NFL Draft, I do not expect that Manti Te’o, one of a handful of the more talented linebackers this year fresh off one of the strangest sports stories of all-time that sends a bad signal about him regardless of how it is interpreted, will be drafted in the first round.
Right now, however, that is exactly what Todd McShay seems to expect, and he is dead wrong.