Archive for the ‘Manti Te’o’ Category

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Manti Te’o saw his first extensive action on Sunday, a career-high 43 snaps during the Chargers’ 27-17 loss to the rival Oakland Raiders.

He was aggressive, flying to the ball when defending the run and somewhat controlled when covering the pass. He didn’t do a whole lot of the latter, being taken off the field when the Chargers deferred to their sub-packages against 11 personnel, but that’ll change soon. He’ll be getting more snaps, according to head coach Mike McCoy.

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The Vikings had three opportunities to take Manti Te’o. Instead, they passed on him twice, and then did it again after giving up pretty much their entire draft for Cordarrelle Patterson.

Once their 23rd and 25th picks passed and other also dire needs were filled after they caught a free falling Sharrif Floyd and Xavier Rhodes to replace Antoine Winfield, they still needed both a wide receiver to complement and/or support Greg Jennings, and a linebacker to replace Jasper Brinkley.

They opted for the former, and lunged at Patterson by trading back into the round, and giving the Patriots four picks. Stunningly, they were the Vikings’ picks in the second, third, fourth, and seventh rounds this year. For general manager Rick Spielman, this draft will be judged largely on the success of his three first-round picks. With DeAndre Hopkins off the board, Patterson became best available option to stretch the field deep vertically, something recently signed Greg Jennings can’t do with consistency anymore.

Three core and crucial needs were filled by the Vikings, but the cost was steep.

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After his poor 40-yard dash time at the Combine that really didn’t matter much at all, Manti Te’o kindly requested that you please refrain from judging him solely on two attempts to run 40 yards in a straight line.

That made sense, because while being fast is trendy among linebackers now and it sure is useful, plenty of LBs have had successful careers while possessing average or even far below average speed. At the time others may have smashed all the panic buttons, but we shrugged and carried on with more important matters.

Now Te’o has another request, and another singular focus for you to avoid: don’t judge him solely by the tape produced from one game.

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Sigh.

And so it begins. It’s not officially April yet, and the draft hearsay and speculation from anonymous people who evidently work for NFL teams is already beginning to clog the tubes that make stuff appear on your computer screen. I’m going to warn you in advance of the next month or so: comments similar to what you see below will often appear in this space prior to April 25, and although I’ll attempt to cut through the fecal matter and I’m generally in the business of telling you what you should believe because writing my opinion on things is sort of what I do, this is a time when I’m a humble messenger.

I’ll mostly pass the scathing and steaming hot rumor your way, and you’ll consume it however you please. Hell, when draft season really kicks into ultra overdrive, we’ll likely even dedicate a daily post to these rumors and anonymous speculation.

Alright then, with that disclaimer out of the way, get this: a few scouts don’t think Manti Te’o will be a first-round pick. Madness.

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Notre Dame’s Pro Day is today, which means it’s yet another Manti Te’o day. We’ll watch and scrutinize every muscle fiber twitch, especially when those muscles are propelling him down a field as he runs 40 yards in a straight line.

Nearly a month ago to the day the middle linebacker posted a 40 time at the NFL Scouting Combine that was just the worst. John Harbaugh went and broke the Internet, while we all wondered if Leon Sandcastle would be drafted ahead of everyone’s favorite catfished former Irish star. A bad day was had by all, expect anyone with a keyboard.

Te’o's best Combine time was a 4.82, which was slower than an offensive lineman. Significantly slower too, as a few days prior Terron Armtead posted a 4.71. Te’o won all the lols.

Conveniently, we all seemed to forget that many middle linebackers who’ve sort of had some success in the NFL aren’t exactly burners. I listed them in a rant at the time, but to name a few recent ones again: Sean Lee, Brandon Spikes, and Pat Angerer. Te’o will never have blazing speed. He has sufficient speed, as instead he finds the ball carrier through field vision, instincts, and agility.

But anywho, for those who care he vowed to improve his 40 time today, saying at the Combine that the media distraction of the whole catfishing mess played a role in his preparation. He promised, and he delivered…

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It was only five months ago that ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. called for the Kansas City Chiefs, the holders of the No. 1 overall pick in this April’s draft, to select Manti Te’o with their first round selection.

“There’s no Andrew Luck, no RG3, no quarterback, what they desperately need,” Kiper said. ”They have to think about, OK, you have the two outside linebackers, you don’t need Jarvis Jones. You bring a Manti Te’o in next to Derrick Johnson, the veteran, all of a sudden that front seven, particularly that linebacking core, would be arguably one of the best in the NFL, potentially.”

In hindsight, the comment is most certainly laughable, as there is no chance of the Chiefs doing exactly that, but also makes the mind wonder just how good Te’o really is. If one is to believe the current state of the media, Te’o's something like a tebow-esque linebacker. But that’s far from the truth according to the tape, which shows a good (not great) linebacker who has the ability to impact games with his rugged run defense and instincts in pass defense. It also shows a guy who might be slightly overrated and perhaps not the best player at his position in the class, but still a good defender who can impact teams and is worthy of first round consideration.

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Every year we watch the value of prospects either rise or fall following the Combine according to their performance. Or more accurately, we imagine it, because these are real humans, not stocks, although they always have draft stocks (*punches self*). And every year, I have no idea why this happens, or at least why it happens so dramatically.

Sure, use the 40-yard dash to measure a players’ straight-line speed, even though such a skill is only vital to a handful of positions. And use the bench press to measure strength, or the three-cone drill to measure agility and the ability to cut quickly. But at their very core, all of these drills are measuring speed and strength. Or even more generally, athleticism, which is sort of a big deal in football, but being a freakish athlete alone doesn’t ensure future stardom. If that was the case, the Raiders would have won about 14 straight Super Bowls.

The ultimate measure should always be a players’ game film, when he’s, you know, playing football. Yet since Manti Te’o's slow 40 gallop earlier this week, the mainstream media tourists are pushing his fall. Bill Polian, the former Colts general manager who’s now a draft analyst for ESPN, is here for some truth talk.

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