Manti Te’o had a phenomenal senior year at Notre Dame in helping his team reach the BCS title game. Then Te’o fell apart in the national championship game on Jan. 7 against Alabama. Then news broke that Manti Te’o lied about his dead girlfriend. Then it was discovered that his dead girlfriend didn’t exist. Then it was discovered that the dead girlfriend was actually a guy he never met in real life. Then… well you get the point.
Following all of his personal troubles there was still great hope for Manti Te’o as NFL teams gathered at this weeks NFL Combine to watch future NFL hopefuls strut around with all of their big time talent.
Unfortunately for Manti Te’o his NFL Combine started with a huge THUD. The Notre Dame star who was expected to run the 40-yard dash in under 4.75 seconds instead pulled in a lousy time of 4.82 seconds. The time was so bad that it led NBA star LeBron James when asked about his own 40-yard dash to proclaim: “It’s better than Manti Te’o, I’ll tell you that.”
Scouts then observed that Manti had dropped from 255 pounds during his senior season to just 241 pounds. Essentially a smaller, slower, prospect showed up at the NFL combine and essentially failed to wow scouts, general managers and other team officials.
While most scouts would likely have forgiven a slightly slower than expected 40-yard dash, it becomes harder to ignore a slower and weaker linebacker.
Questions about his ability to handle the pressure of the national spotlight could further complications for Te’o as he enters the NFL draft. Three weeks ago Te’o was expected to be drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 13th draft spot. Yesterday ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. changed his position, placing the linebacker in the 20th draft position going to the Chicago Bears.
Now with mounting problems in his game it looks as if Manti Te’o could fall off the NFL first round draft pick board all together.
While it is easy to make assumptions at this point, the truth is the NFL draft isn’t until April and Manti Te’o will still have a chance to impress scouts during Notre Dame’s pro day on March 26.
The spotlight for Manti Te’o will now likely focus on his ability to gain a few pounds while also increasing his speed. If Manti Te’o can prove to NFL scouts, coaches and general managers that he is able to excel during a difficult point in his life, he could potentially turn his fake dead girlfriend story into a positive attribute of his character during trying times.
Despite his slower than expected 40-yard dash time Manti Te’o has at least one supporter in longtime ESPN basketball analysts Dick Vitale who tweeted:
Wow all this negative talk about MANTI TE’O ‘s 40 time -is he being rated 4 the Olympics? I know MANTI he is a football player – #PROBOWL
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) February 27, 2013
Do you think Manti Te’o will staill manage to pull off a first-round draft pick position despite his less than stellar NFL combine?