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Road to the Draft: Manti Te'o

By Jay Skurski

Manti Teo

Position: Inside linebacker
School: Notre Dame
Measurables: 6-foot-1, 241 pounds
40 time: 4.82 seconds. Vertical: 33 inches. Broad jump: 9 feet, 5 inches. 20-yard shuttle: 4.27 seconds.
2012 stats: 13 starts, 113 tackles, 5.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, 7 interceptions, 4 pass breakups
Draft projection: First-second round

Lowdown: Te’o was the most decorated player in all of college football last season, winning the Nagurski and Bednarik awards and the Lombardi and Maxwell trophies, along with being selected the Walter Camp National Player of the Year. All of that was overlooked, however, when it was revealed in January by the website that a story about Te’o’s girlfriend passing away during the season was a hoax. While the player has maintained his innocence in regards to the scandal, the situation has raised legitimate questions about how he could be so gullible. It’s also questionable as to how Te’o will be received in an NFL locker room.

The off-the-field drama makes it easy to forget Te’o finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting. He’s an aggressive, solidly built middle linebacker who communicates well on the field. He’s quick to recognize plays and closes well on the ball. As his seven interceptions in 2012 show, he can play the ball well when it’s in the air and has a knack for putting himself in the right places.

Te’o, however, only has average size and speed for the position. He improved slightly on his 40 time from the combine at Notre Dame’s pro day, but is still not elite in terms of speed. Will he be able to get to the edge in the NFL? It’s a tough question for evaluators. Had a terrible performance in the BCS National Championship game against Alabama.

They said it: "He should have a very good career.  Whether it'll be great or not obviously is debatable." -- ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. 

The Buffalo News is profiling 50 prospects in 50 days leading up to this month’s NFL Draft.


2013 draft | Manti Te'o | Road to the Draft
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |