Manti Te’o cannot get a real girlfriend, compete on the same field with Alabama, or run a fast forty. Yet, unlike any other faltering draft prospect, ESPN and Todd McShay seem eager to make excuses for the Notre Dame linebacker.
First, McShay proclaims that Te’o’s draft stock would not be hurt by the “hoax.” Now, he runs a sub-par forty, and I have never seen an analyst be so quick to make excuses for the player.
Let me be clear, Manti Te’o is a solid undersized middle linebacker that is a step or two too slow to have as a long-term solution up the middle. He is not a bad player, and I could see him start for a few teams, but, as a player, he is not worth a First Round pick.
Then, we have the issue of the fake girlfriend in which Manti Te’o may be a “victim.” However, there are few things in life in which one is completely a victim. So while it seems as though Te’o really was a victim, the fact that he was so naïve and there are just too many unanswered questions raises serious questions about his emotional and mental preparedness for the NFL.
I am not an NFL general manager, but if I were, Te’o’s name does not come up for discussion on my draft board until Round 3 at the earliest.
It is unclear why ESPN is infatuated with Manti Te’o and why they are committed to seeing him as a First Round draft pick. He benefits from a number of teams needing his position and from a lack of quality players that do not carry significant baggage.
However, Manti Te’o is not a First Round caliber draft pick. That was clear during the Alabama game, it was clear during the bizarre “hoax,” and it was made clear again at the Combine.