Manti Te’o Conundrum

By Steve Randall

The story of Manti Te’o is a very intriguing and sad story. He is very naïve and, as was revealed in the National Championship game, he wasn’t as good as the Heisman hype made him out to be. However, the whole catfish scam that everyone is calling him out on should not affect his draft stock in the slightest. Manti is a good football player; he has talent and a decent nose for the game. What should affect his draft stock is his lack of speed, strength and ability to stop a power run game. This weeks NFL combine shined a bright light on Manti’s flaws and made teams even wearier of drafting him.  He ran a 4.8 40-yard dash and refused to do the bench press portion of the combine.  This 40-yard dash time is really unacceptable for a NFL caliber middle linebacker. There are high school players that run a faster time than that.

It was actually a smart move on his part not to do bench press. If he had a poor showing in that event his draft stock could have plummeted even further. When you look at the tape of Te’o, he does have good football sense and he can make plays on the ball. However, to be honest, the teams in which he played the best against were against sub-par opponents on a weak schedule. When he faced big-time talent from a good conference, he crumbled. Not only was he not fast enough, he was not strong enough, and he made all the wrong decisions. Basically Alabama made him look like he was still in high school. What do you think is going to happen when he makes it to the NFL where everyone is at Alabama’s talent level or better? He is going to crumble again.

Manti Te’o is going to be the next Tim Tebow of the NFL; the only difference is Tebow doesn’t have any negative press associated with him. Te’o is going to bring with him a huge amount of media attention and sub-standard play. Having him in a locker room will be disruptive and everyone will wonder why the press wants to interview the bench-warmer and not the starters.  The only hope for Te’o is to work hard to improve his measurable skills and hire a PR rep to improve his image. The teams that would still draft him after the whole catfish scam were soured on him after seeing his measurables. Te’o needs to leave the scam behind him and work out as hard as he can before his pro day so that he can make up for his poor performance at the combine in Indianapolis.

The sad part of this whole story is that the media shouldn’t be looking at him with such a scrutinizing lens. He was given too much fame, and he couldn’t keep up with the hype that was surrounding him. He was never as good as the media made him out to be, yet he is a good college football player who loves the game. Manti Te’o is an average player that was bolstered up by media hype and national attention. Only time will tell whether he will be able to make it in the NFL, but he has a lot of work to do to repair his image and improve his measurable skills.

CBS Sports Eye on Football Blog


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