2015 NFL DRAFT

2013 NFL Draft: Former player says Te'o's big test will be in locker room

By Jeff Reynolds | NFLDraftScout.com

Variance of opinion on the NFL worth of Manti Te'o is a polarizing topic that isn't about to go away. He'll be scrutinized from every possible angle, fairly or not.

Former NFL offensive lineman Ross Tucker pumped up the volume on the Te'o topic again Thursday, strongly suggesting toughness -- mental and physical -- are the greatest obstacles standing between the NFL and the Notre Dame All-American, Heisman Trophy finalist and hoaxsterboy.

CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman had a compelling look at Te'o Wednesday, specifically whether teams believe he's "good enough to offset the crap" or if teams will simply shop another aisle for an inside linebacker.

Tucker shared his own opinion, but also supported it with a take from an anonymous scout. From Tucker's SportsUSAMedia Blog:

"I don't want him," one veteran scout from a linebacker-needy team told me, "Leadership is one of his big positives but he won't have that now because guys in the locker room are going to really be hard on him ... he'll be a target ...he's going to have to play lights out for a while to gain that back."

Bingo.

I played for five different teams and can say without equivocation that Te'o is going to be tested. Many players will think he is soft. They'll think he is a punk because, well, he got punk'd. We are talking about an environment in which promiscuity is respected if not encouraged. Long relationships on the phone and internet with a girl you never even met? Not so much.

NFL locker rooms aren't like the rest of society. They're not politically correct and they're not any place for someone with a weakness, which is exactly what Te'o's incident is to many of them, a sign of that weakness.

Speed and psychology are there for scouts and personnel evaluators to measure and cross-examine. But seemingly peripheral aspects of the final draft grade, such as how he'll be treated by purported peers and whether emotional maturity and mental toughness might become the greater need once he's in a pro locker room, aren't to be discounted.

For more NFL draft news and analysis, follow Jeff Reynolds on Twitter at @ReynoldsJD.

 
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