04/25/2013 - ROB RANG'S FINAL 2013 NFL DRAFT BIG BOARD: 36. Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame: Other than a BCS title game in which Alabama's incredible offensive line simply powered through the Irish's defensive line to get to him, Te'o proved to be a reliably consistent defender throughout his career. Ignore the hype. He'll prove a solid starter in the NFL. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com
04/24/2013 - The former Notre Dame linebacker was considered a top-five pick early in his senior season. Then a poor showing against Alabama in the national championship game coupled with the news that he had a fake, dead Internet girlfriend sent his draft stock tumbling. That was the perception, anyway. In reality, Te'o still could be a first-round pick. A handful of analysts and scouts thought so after Te'o's pro day in late March, although now, two days out from the draft, obfuscation rules and it's almost impossible to differentiate smoke screens from truth.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Bob McGinn spoke to scouts for the latest on Te'o. Overall, the reviews were positive: "In the grand scheme of it, yeah, he's a pretty good player. He's a second-round talent," one scout told McGinn. "I think he's everything you need in a 'mike' backer," another scout added. "He plays sideline to sideline. He plays faster than the timed speed. He's able to key and diagnose quickly. And he's hungry." "Probably didn't make as many tackles as A.J. (Hawk), but I don't see a big difference," a third scout observed. "Notre Dame put their reputation on this kid, and I don't think they would have if he wasn't a hell of a kid." But it's this next comment that will likely catch people's attention. "We've kind of taken him off the board," another scout told McGinn. "He doesn't have enough ability to put up with all that. Why fool with it? Try-hard, smart (Wonderlic of 23) guy. This was the first year he's really gotten himself in shape. Some of his teammates think he's kind of a phony." - Ryan Wilson, CBSSports.com
04/10/2013 - Manti Te'o's stock has fluctuated between a late-first and second-round pick amongst the litany of mock drafts that have been published in recent weeks. If the former Notre Dame middle linebacker is selected by the Detroit Lions, he will almost certainly last beyond the opening night of this month's NFL Draft. Te'o visited the Lions Tuesday at the team's facility in Allen Park, Mich., according to DetroitLions.com. After a 4-12 finish in 2012, the Lions have the No. 5 overall pick in the first round.
Te'o, the 2012 Maxwell, Chuck Bednarik and Walter Camp Award winner, is intent on proving that he's a three-down linebacker in the pros. During Te'o's draft training at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., he has worked on improving his technique when forced to shed blockers on the second-level. In 2012, Te'o set the Notre Dame single-season record for interceptions with seven. The interception total was the highest by a linebacker in FBS since 2001. "I can always get better and I'm going to get better, but if anyone questioned my ability to cover, I had seven interceptions," Te'o told DetroitLions.com. "That should say, ???Hey, he has the ability to play three-down football.'" - Matt Rybaltowski, CBSSports.com
03/30/2013 - Manti Te'o completed his pro day at Notre Dame on Tuesday and the results were pretty good, potentially vaulting him into a first-round lock when the 2013 NFL Draft rolls around. But "potentially" isn't enough to convince Te'o to attend the draft in New York City. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Te'o has already turned down two invitations to attend the 2013 NFL Draft. It's hard to blame Te'o for avoiding New York over draft weekend like the plague.
The Big Apple becomes a NFL zoo, with players standing on buildings, questions and interviews galore and, most importantly, a three-day televised event watched by the whole world. A worst-case scenario for Te'o involves him not being picked in the first round and having not just a Thursday-night's worth of cameras on him for three or so hours, but an additional day of speculation leading up to Friday's second round.
Even if he went No. 1 overall, the television coverage of Te'o leading up to the draft would be brutal. And seeing Te'o go in the first round is the likely scenario, but it's far from guaranteed. He'll still be prominently mentioned. (Don't even get me started on what will happen on Twitter once he's shown on camera answering his phone.) And Te'o will still very much be a major storyline. But he's wise to make sure that the cameras don't have a chance to key in on him during an awkward green room hangout. - Will Brinson, CBSSports.com
03/29/2013 - 2013 Notre Dame Pro Day: Notre Dame's pro day on Tuesday featured 14 players, including first-round NFL draft hopefuls Manti Te'o, Tyler Eifert and Zeke Motta. And even though no NFL head coaches attended the event (held indoors on Field Turf), representatives from 29 NFL teams were there, including Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, Cincinnati Bengals tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes and Detroit Lions running backs coach Curtis Modkins.
Manti T'eo, linebacker (6-1 1/2, 243) - The Heisman Trophy finalist slightly improved his 40-yard dash times from February's NFL Scouting Combine, posting times of 4.75 and 4.71. He looked good in his position drills, too. Te'o is a smart, steady player who knows what he's doing. - Gil Brandt, NFL.com
03/01/2013 - Manti Te'o is focused on getting faster. The Notre Dame star and Heisman Trophy runner-up, who was clocked at 4.82 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine last week, says he'll improve his time and is looking forward to his pro day on March 26.
Te'o was in town Friday to accept the Maxwell Football Club's Maxwell Award for collegiate player of the year and Chuck Bednarik Award for collegiate defensive player of the year. Te'o spoke to reporters for nearly six minutes, but wouldn't address his highly-publicized online romance with a girlfriend that was exposed as a hoax. He says he's glad the combine is over and he's working hard in preparation for the draft. - AP Sports
03/01/2013 - 2013 NFL PRO DAY DATES TO REMEMBER: March 26 - Notre Dame, Texas...Manti Te'o, Manti Te'o, Manti Te'o. He has been the story of college football over the last two months, and now the draft process and that attention probably won't go away anytime soon. After average results in the 40-yard dash (4.82) and choosing not to lift, Te'o will get a second chance in South Bend at his pro day. - Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com
03/01/2013 - NFL coaches, scouts, executives and a few lucky fans may have been the only ones allowed inside Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to witness the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine Presented by Under Armour, but NFL Media delivered the event to a record audience around the world. A record high total of 7.25 million viewers watched coverage of the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine Presented by Under Armour on NFL Network over the four days (Saturday, Feb. 23 -Tuesday, Feb. 26, live and re-air telecasts) - topping last year's 6.51 million total viewers by +11%, according to The Nielsen Company.
Additionally, the average minute audience of 268,000 viewers for NFL Network's live coverage of the Combine shattered the previous high of 244,000 from 2012 (+10%). Individually, NFL Network set viewership records for three of the four days of the Combine (Sat., Mon., & Tue.).
On the digital front, for the week of Feb. 20-26, unique users to NFL.com and NFL Mobile, including NFL Mobile From Verizon, grew 33% to over 10 million (10.1M vs. 7.6M). Video content was especially popular for fans following the combine online and on their smartphones. Video streams of Combine Live were up 89% (3.6M vs. 1.9M), with audience up 21% (1.4M vs. 1.2M) and Total Minutes up 35% (18.6M vs. 13.8M). (All % growth vs. 2012). - NFL Media
03/01/2013 - Former University of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o doesn't care if he's a first-round draft pick just as long as he gets the opportunity to play in the National Football League.
"To be honest, I really don't know when I'll be drafted," Te'o said Friday during the Maxwell Football Club's annual press conference at Harrah's Atlantic City. "Right now, I'm just hoping I get drafted. I'm working hard, preparing myself the best I can and hoping for the best. I'm just hoping one of the 32 (NFL) teams will give me a home."
Just a few months ago, Te'o was a sure-fire top-five pick. He enjoyed an outstanding season for the Fighting Irish, which resulted in him becoming the first player in the 76-year history of the Maxwell Football Club to win both the Maxwell (outanding collegiate player of the year) and Chuck Bednarik (collegiate defensive player of the year) awards in the same year. - David Weinberg
02/28/2013 - Not many NFL prospects go through the combine and then head up for an NFL Network interview. But not many prospects are Manti Te'o. An exhausted-looking Te'o joined Rich Eisen and Mike Mayock in the booth after his workout and essentially put his poor performance at the 2013 NFL Combine on being exhausted. "It's very exhausting," Te'o said. "You ask anyone here it's a very exhausting process."
Of course, the combine's designed to be exhausting. (Although it's gotten worse with those jerky media types hanging around and asking a bunch of questions.) Te'o believes he can calm the critics at his Notre Dame pro day, however. "I did OK," Te'o said. "I can obviously do a lot better. I can do a lot better and that's what pro days are for."
Te'o ran a 4.82 40-yard dash, a slow time considering he said he'd been hitting 4.46s, and especially considering he lost weight before the combine. "Today was just a long, long, long, long day," Te'o said when discussing why he didn't run well at the 40. Again, the NFL is going to be full of long days. There is going to be plenty of scrutiny involved in playing professional football. Pressure will be plentiful. - Will Brinson, CBSSports.com
02/28/2013 - 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." - Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
02/27/2013 - TOP 10 COMPELLING NFL COMBINE STORY LINES: 1. The intrigue around Manti Te'o grows. But now it's growing about the merits of the former Notre Dame star's skills on the field. Yes, there was a lot of talk about Te'o off the field as folks were trying to get in his head, but it was his underwhelming measurables that will drive talk in NFL Draft circles for the next few months. Te'o, who had been listed by Notre Dame at 255 pounds, measured much smaller than expected at 241, and he clocked a 4.82 officially in the 40, making him one of the slowest linebackers in Indy. I spoke to four NFL personnel people who all felt Te'o was overhyped as a player in college. They each said he wasn't as bad as the player you'd see on tape from the Alabama game but that he doesn't look like a guy who'll be making many trips to the Pro Bowl either.
"Good player... solid... very instinctive... not truly elite ... he's a two-down player ... he's not a 'match-up' player," were the comments. "Based on all those awards he won in college and all the hype he got you'd think he had Patrick Willis talent; he doesn't." - Bruce Feldman, CBSSports.com
02/27/2013 - TOP 10 COMPELLING NFL COMBINE STORY LINES: 1. Another one of the NFL guys who interviewed Te'o in Indy said, "I found him to be rehearsed and disingenuous." Aren't all the prospects answers rehearsed though? So I asked the coach if lying to NFL people about Te'o's "girlfriend" is a real issue or does it only really matter how good of a player he is at this point? "Don't know. I'm just not sure he's good enough to offset the crap. It's a road I hope we don't go down. I'd rather find a better athlete."
A couple of the NFL Network analysts made an interesting Te'o comparison, bringing up the name of former Ohio State standout James Laurinaitis, whose numbers in Indy were very similar to the Notre Dame linebacker's. Laurinaitis was three pounds heavier and ran the exact same 40. He's proven to be a very solid, productive player for the Rams. He's never been a Pro Bowler but has piled up tackles and emerged as one of the better players on a nonplayoff team. - Bruce Feldman, CBSSports.com
02/27/2013 - Even LeBron James is piling on Manti Te'o's 40 time. When Te'o ran his now-famous 4.82, well above the 4.46s he said he'd posted in training, Ravens coach John Harbaugh could only shake his head. NFL Network's Mike Mayock chimed in, "What I saw is the same thing I think John Harbaugh saw: [Te'o] reaches maximum speed at about 20 (yards) and there's no increase from there." LeBron on his 4.6 40 that he pointed out was without training, "It's better than Manti Te'o, I'll tell you that." Ouch. OK, LeBron, so you went out and scored a season-high 40 points with a career-high 16 assists against Sacramento. And your supposed 40 time would have beaten all but two tight ends at this year's NFL Combine. Don't you think it's time to get that 40-yard dash on tape? - Larry Hartstein, CBSSports.com
02/25/2013 - According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and NBC Sports, NFL coaches and GMs want to know if Manti Te'o is gay. "On the field, you still have to account for what happened in the BCS national championship game against Alabama," Florio told the Dan Patrick Show. "Here's the elephant in the room for the teams and it shouldn't matter but we have to step aside from the rest of reality and walk into the unique industry that is the NFL. Teams want to know whether Manti Te'o is gay. They just want to know. They want to know because in an NFL locker room, it's a different world. It shouldn't be that way."
Florio isn't the first to raise the question of NFLDraftScout.com's second-ranked inside linebacker, but he's the first to discuss the factor in an open public forum. Whether NFL teams actually asked the question in one-on-one interviews -- Te'o said he met with 20 teams at the Combine before working out with linebackers Monday -- is doubtful.
"I don't think you can ask that question -- because of the Dez Bryant question (he was asked by Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland if his mother was a prostitute) of a few years ago," Florio said. "If you go Katie Couric on Manti Te'o, it's going to come out that some team, some GM some coach asked Manti Te'o if he's gay. Then you'll have to deal with all the distraction and all the stuff that flows after that."
Patrick interrupted Florio to ask: "You're telling me that you're hearing from teams who want to know this, but how do you ask it? Are they trying to find a finesse way to ask that question, or are they going to do investigative work on finding out if Manti Te'o is gay?" - Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
02/25/2013 - Manti Te'o opened the door for scouts openly questioning his athleticism with a disappearing act in the BCS national championship game. He propped that door open with a 4.81 unofficial time in his first 40-yard dash attempt Monday. On Monday, he didn't have to worry about being buried by NFLDraftScout.com's top-ranked guard Chance Warmack, the All-American from Alabama who manhandled Te'o in January. On that day, Te'o was on the wrong side of the Eddie Lacy's first-round resume tape. Lacy isn't a burner and lacks the make-you-miss wiggle in the hole to leave lunging tacklers in his wake. But the potential first-round pick often beat Te'o outside and easily left him in his wake on cutbacks between the tackles.
At 255 -- Te'o was listed at that weight by Notre Dame -- he'd be equipped to play inside, but he slimmed down to 241 for the combine. He doesn't have the bulk or the speed, based on tape and his workout Monday, to be a three-down linebacker and his shorter arms and squat frame will make defeating blocks difficult. The fact that he didn't show remarkable speed will register with evaluators trying to figure whether Te'o's standout play in 2011 and '12 or the miserably forgettable effort in the BCS title game was the real prospect. James Laurinaitis, a second-round pick out of Ohio State, ran a 4.82 40. Vontaze Burfict, a starter for the Bengals last season after running a 5.1 in Indianapolis, are examples of production and instincts being more important measures than straight-line speed in short and T-shirts. - Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
02/23/2013 - Te'o said he wouldn't have held the press conference if he was still embarrassed, but the hurt and disappointment he feels from having his last name - not his first - cast in a negative light leaves a lasting wound. "The toughest moment to be honest with you was a phone call I got from my sister that they had to sneak my own family into the home," Te'o said. "...Knowing my family was in the situation because of something I did, that was the hardest part."
Te'o didn't say he had regrets over how the hoax played out and said he waited so long to share the truth because he was in a "whirlwind" and chose to wait to give his side. He will not pursue legal action against any of the individuals involved and said he's sympathetic to the family of Roniah Tuiasosopo knowing they, too, are going through a difficult time far from their normal routine.
"It got overwhelming at times. I think the hardest part - not necessarily my first name, but my last name - seeing it out there," he said. "Everybody here, that's what you treasure. That's what you hold dear. "For me, hopefully, I'm just looking forward to getting straight to football. I understand people have questions, but I've answered everything I could." - Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
02/23/2013 - Manti Te'o only recently overcame the embarrassment of the public exposure brought when it was revealed Jan. 16 that he was fooled by a male acquaintance into believing he was dating a woman he genuinely loved. The Notre Dame linebacker met with hundreds of media Saturday at 3 p.m. ET and with poise and patience answered every question, including one from a New York reporter who asked "Are you dating anyone in real life?"
He'll meet with a total of 20 teams at the Scouting Combine, including two meetings Friday - with the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers. In those 15-minute strictly timed interviews held in team hotel suites, Te'o said he was asked to provide the facts and give a brief overview of what happened.
"They want to be able to trust their player," said Te'o, a 22-year-old All-American projected to be a first-round pick and second-ranked inside linebacker in the draft. "They don't want to invest in somebody you can't trust." - Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
02/21/2013 - If Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend has taught us one thing, it's this: you can never be too careful when you're using social media. Te'o's much-talked about catfish situation has some NFL teams, including the Minnesota Vikings, monitoring players' social media use more closely heading into the combine. "One thing we've done this year, we've done a lot of digging on social media and have a pretty in-depth picture of these players that are involved and not involved in social media," Vikings general manager Rick Speilman said. "How many times they tweet or twit, I don't know, I'm not a technical guy. But it's interesting to see the patterns on some of these social media players."
Speilman acknowledged that the Te'o situation played a part in Minnesota's heightened interest in players' social media use. "It's a lot more in-depth this year because of the highlight of what happened with [Te'o]," Speilman said. One player the Vikings won't be able to closely monitor online? Te'o. That's because the former Notre Dame linebacker shut down his Twitter account in early February so he could focus on preparing for the draft. - John Breech, CBSSports.com
02/20/2013 - Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, better known for an embarrassing personal scandal than a great 2012 season in which he was the Heisman Trophy runner up, seems realistic about what he must accomplish this week at the National Football League Scouting Combine. In an exclusive interview with USA TODAY's Jim Corbett in Bradenton, Fla., while preparing for Combine workouts, Te'o said his infamous involvement with a fake online girlfriend won't impact his status in the April draft.
That closely matches the opinion of scouts, who mostly agree that Te'o's once phenomenal reputation already has been irreparably devalued. The naivety and immaturity shown by how he mishandled his personal crisis removed the luster most scouts associated with Te'o, whose ratings were enhanced by the perception of sensational intangibles that gave potential to be a team and locker room leader.
Pre-combine projections by NFLDraftScout.com rank Te'o second among inside linebackers, behind LSU underclassman Kevin Minter. Both are considered late first or early second-round picks. However, they could move up if either or both make the right impression.
"I have to just go out there and perform, and all that other stuff is behind me," Te'o told Corbett. "What I did on the field is what I did on the field. I don't think what I did with this whole situation; I don't understand how it takes away from what I did on the field. "As far as my stock dropping or rising, that's not up to me. The only thing I have to do is just do well, run fast, just be myself, be quick." - Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange
02/20/2013 - 2013 NFL Combine, Most to gain: Te'o certainly ranks as one of the more intriguing players at any position when it comes to the Combine. Forget for a moment all of the questions that will be asked of him during the media session. There are plenty of athletic concerns that Te'o must address, as well, not the least of which is his overall speed. Should he reassure scouts with his answers on and off the turf, he could reverse the train-wreck that has been his offseason and legitimize his standing in Dane Brugler and my mock draft. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com
02/20/2013 - Top 10 most intriguing players at the combine: 3. Manti Te'o, Notre Dame, LB: On the field is where things get more intriguing. Long-time NFL personnel man Pat Kirwan, now an analyst at CBSSports.com, said after watching the Bama debacle that he went back and studied Te'o in other games.
"The Stanford game raised as many questions as answers," Kirwan wrote. "He is aggressive, but he struggles to disengage. It almost seems like he has to come downhill so fast just to beat the blocker to the point of attack or he's tied up. He takes chances trying to make plays, and it doesn't always work out. At times, he reminded me of when Junior Seau first came in the NFL. At other times, he would overplay a run and miss the tackle. There was a lack of awareness in zone coverages at times when he didn't 'feel' the receiver in his zone. "I had some concerns about how often he leaves his feet to make a tackle and miss. He needs to be in a 4-3 defense, and the middle may be too much traffic for him to sift through to make plays." - Bruce Feldman, CBSSports.com
02/20/2013 - Top 10 most intriguing players at the combine: 3. Manti Te'o, Notre Dame, LB: The most celebrated player in college football in 2012, Te'o scarfed up a truckload of individual awards but since then has had a rough couple of months. His team got blown out by Alabama in the BCS title game, and Te'o looked overmatched. Then came word of the hoax with his much-talked-about dead girlfriend, which figures to get plenty of talk again this week in Indy. My hunch is Te'o won't have too much trouble addressing that with scouts and the media. The shock of the story has passed, and Te'o and his handlers have had plenty of time and now experience to address things. - Bruce Feldman, CBSSports.com
02/20/2013 - 2013 NFL Combine, Next question: One of the reasons why some believe Te'o never was a serious candidate to actually win the Heisman Trophy was the simple fact that he, like any other defender, simply didn't get the exposure of today's quarterbacks. Te'o will likely draw more attention from the media and teams next week than any of this year's passers as seemingly everyone wants to hear him explain the details of the bizarre "hoax" that has captivated the country. As odd as Te'o's saga has been, teams ultimately can take solace in the fact that it appears, at least, that the former Notre Dame linebacker didn't break any laws. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com
02/20/2013 - 2013 NFL Combine, 10 players to watch: 1. ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame...It's been a roller coaster last two months for the Notre Dame linebacker after a lackluster national title performance and the hoax controversy that became national news. Te'o is still very much in the first-round discussion, but the interview process will be crucial to his draft standing. Teams want to know if he has the mental toughness and confidence to deal with what the next level will bring. - Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com