2013 Draft Prospect Profile: Manti Te’o

Welcome to our 2013 Draft Prospect Profile series, written by Rob Quinn. Rob is putting together quick, digestible summaries for highly publicized discussed prospects, prospects that interest him, and prospects that interest YOU.

If there’s someone out there who has piqued your interest and you want to know a little but more about him before April rolls around, get at Rob and request he put a profile together. You can email him at RQUINN619@billsmafia.com with a request.

The series isn’t Bills-centric necessarily; however, when the occasion calls for it, Rob will include thoughts on how a player might impact the Bills were they to draft him. But overall, the goal is to educate you on some of the names you’ll hear called in April.

Manti Te'o: MLB, Notre Dame (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Manti Te’o: MLB, Notre Dame (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Manti Te’o
6’2” 250 lbs
Notre Dame
Middle Linebacker

There isn’t a more scrutinized player in the 2013 NFL draft than Notre Dame middle linebacker, Manti Te’o. During the season, Te’o was lauded for dealing with the losses of both his grandmother and girlfriend, while managing to put together one of the best seasons in all of college football, en route to earning a nod as a Heisman finalist. However, after being gobbled up by Alabama’s Chance Warmack in the BCS National Championship and Deadspin breaking the biggest story of the year regarding Te’o’s “Imaginary Girlfriend Hoax,” his draft stock has plummeted.

The Good

Manti Te’o is a true inside linebacker that displays great instincts—on the football field, at least—. He put up incredible statistics during his four seasons with the Fighting Irish, recording 437 tackles, 34 of which came for a loss, 8.5 sacks and seven interceptions. He’s got a thick build that he carries well, after reportedly dropping between 10-15 pounds prior to his senior year. Te’o is an extremely hard-working player, and while watching film you don’t see him take a play off. He’s a true every-down linebacker that doesn’t need to come off the field on passing downs, which makes him a valuable asset. He’s improved greatly in his pass coverage during his career, and really shows that he recognizes plays as they develop. He broke up 11 passes and intercepted seven in his senior year, a testament to his skills in that department. Te’o displays excellent depth when dropping into zone coverage and covers crossing routes and the flats better than any middle linebacker in college football. He takes correct angles when chasing down ball-carriers, and he’s disciplined maintaining gap control. He’s an above average tackler, and uses great fundamentals and technique to bring opposing players down.

The Bad

While he’s an above average tackler, Te’o sometimes stands still and “reaches” for ball-carriers, rather than driving into them. When blockers engage him, he struggles to effectively stack and shed, which will become a big issue if he’s drafted into a 4-3 defensive scheme. He’s got average athleticism, and isn’t really fluid with his movement, which is why his 40-time at the NFL Combine will be huge for his draft stock. Te’o isn’t a real “sideline-to-sideline” linebacker, so he may be limited to a 3-4 defense where great range isn’t necessary.

How He Fits The Bills

Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has had the luxury of great inside linebackers such as Ray Lewis, Bart Scott, and David Harris in his defenses throughout his career, and could be looking for the next one. Manti Te’o, while highly scrutinized, is-and always was- a true second round draft pick. He’d be the perfect fit for the 3-4 defense that Pettine runs, and could be a true thumper at the inside linebacker position alongside Kelvin Sheppard.

Projected Draft Position

Second Round

Pro Player Comparison

Takeo Spikes