Why Manti Te'o Will Be Undervalued in the NFL Draft

Why Manti Te'o will be undervalued in the NFL Draft

1/4/13 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Shutdown corners and dynamic pass rushers are great to have, but their talents go to waste without a solid interior presence. Take a look at the 49ers' Aldon Smith, who had 19.5 sacks through his first 13 games (1.5 sacks per game). Since currently injured defensive tackle Justin Smith - arguably the 49ers' best defensive player - played his last full game, Aldon Smith has registered zero sacks in three contests.

For another example of great pass rushers and cornerbacks with no interior presence, take a look at the Philadelphia Eagles...

I'm not saying that any team should take a good middle linebacker over a great pass rusher or cornerback, but some analysts have Te'o ranked as the best player in this draft. A lot of people are saying that he'll drop because of the position he plays, and that simply should not be the case.
Oct. 13, 2012; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te'o (5) celebrates after Notre Dame defeated the Stanford Cardinal 20-13 in overtime at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Te'o is as dynamic as they come. He can plug holes in the running game and run alongside halfbacks. He's an exceptional tackler, missing only two tackles all season, both of which came against Le'Veon Bell, Todd McShay's second ranked draft eligible running back. Te'o also has the agility and footwork to cover pass catching tight ends - a trait that has become extremely valuable to NFL teams in recent years.

Finally, there are the intangibles. I know that word - intangibles - has been pounded into your head time and time again, but with middle linebackers it really makes an enormous difference. Think about all the great players at the position - they all have the ability to get their team playing at another level, playing better than they thought they could be. Te'o has that. Unlike teams such as Alabama and LSU, Notre Dame isn't overflowing with NFL prospects, but Te'o and company are still the top ranked defense and top ranked team in college football.

Te'o is a rare talent. He possesses just about everything one needs to be successful in the NFL. He plays a position that is underrated in the modern game. I've seen mock drafts from respectable analysts drop him as low as 15th, which I believe could make him the biggest steal of the draft (assuming we don't have another Tom Brady in the sixth round).

Whatever team gets Te'o in April should be cheering for joy all the way up until he takes the field and revolutionizes their defense in September. I sure hope that team is the Raiders, but my money is on Te'o being selected in the 5-10 range.

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1/6/13   |   richard_cranium   |   17679 respect

As a ND fan, I have had the pleasure of watching Manti grow as a football player the last 4 years. He has always spent the offseason improving his game. I have no doubt that he will continue to do that in the NFL. I know that my Cowboys would not draft him, not that he will be there anyways. I can only hope that he does not wind up on a team I hate. At least then I could root for him to have a great game. So the teams I don't want him playing for, Patriots, Steelers, Texans, Raiders, Redskins, Giants, Eagles, Packers, Falcons, Seahawks, Cardinals, Rams. That is only a 1/3 of the NFL, not too much to ask.