MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Manti Te’o’s career could take a serious hit in April after Deadspin.com discovered and reported that his girlfriend, who reportedly died during the season, was an elaborate hoax.
NFL Draft consultant Gil Brant said the story surrounding Notre Dame’s All-American linebacker was “something I have never witnessed” in his half-century in pro football.
“I think some team will say it isn’t worth the problem,” to draft Te’o, said Brandt.
It’s not just the girlfriend scandal that is hurting Te’o’s draft status. The last time Te’o was on the field, he was getting destroyed by the University of Alabama’s offensive line in the BCS National Championship game in Miami.
Most NFL scouts believe Alabama’s line to be nearly NFL level, which doesn’t bode well for Te’o. During the game, Te’o couldn’t get off blocks, missed tackles, was run over by Alabama lineman and his overall play was just poor.
“I don’t think anybody considered him to be a top-five pick before all this happened,” Brandt said. “In that game against Alabama, this was like a guy who was the best shooter in the world in basketball and here comes a game and he can’t even hit the backboard.”
Still, it only takes one team to be willing to take a chance on Te’o, who outside of the Alabama game was a very productive and solid linebacker at Notre Dame. As has been proven in the past with players like Michael Vick, some team is always willing to take that chance.
Many players before Te’o have seen their draft stock plummet because of off-the-field issues. Last year, Janoris Jenkins was arguably the best corner in the draft, but fell to the second round after several drug arrests.
Former UM standout Warren Sapp in 1995 and Randy Moss in 1998 both fell because of character concerns and both are now probably headed for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Te’o will still likely fall somewhere in the first round, but a precipitous fall in the draft’s opening round could be a blessing in disguise for Te’o.
Instead of having to go to one of the worst teams in the league, Te’o could end up with a contender looking to add some pop to their defense. While his initial pay would take a hit due to his draft position, he would still be ready to cash in on his second contract if he plays well.
And in the end, in the modern world of professional football, if Te’o produces on the field like he did against every team not named Alabama; his image will be rehabilitated and the marketing opportunities will come his way again.
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