Coaches, scouts still have concerns about Manti Te'o
The last we spoke of Manti Te'o, he had just wrapped up a tense week at the NFL Combine best remembered for a packed press conference and a forgettable 40 time.
But running fast in a straight line isn't a great predictor of NFL success, which one AFC general manager confirmed to the Chicago Tribune's Dan Pompei. "If a middle linebacker runs a 4.82 but he is instinctive and quick in a short area, the 40-yard-dash time doesn't matter," he said. "At that position, what matters is they are productive and make plays."
Giants general manager Jerry Reese agreed.
"I think a lot has been blown out of proportion with Manti. We have to depend mostly on our evaluation on what he did on the field. We talk to them about off-field issues, take psychological inventories and find out as much as we can. But at some point, you can talk yourself out of some good football players with too much information."
So even though Teo's 40 time caused Ravens coach John Harbaugh to shake his head like a disappointed father watching his son strike out with the winning run on third base, it shouldn't much matter, right?
That depends. While the two general managers above didn't put much stock in those 4.82 seconds in Te'o's life, others in the NFL weren't quite as upbeat.
"I worry about Notre Dame guys," one head coach told NFL.com's Kimberly Jones. "Are they as athletic as they need to be? How does he stack up [with other linebackers]?"
Jones asked another coach if anyone at the combine was impressed by Te'o's workout. "How could you be?" he asked rhetorically.
And a veteran scout told SiriusXM's Ross Tucker, a former NFL offensive lineman, "I don't want [Te'o]. 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."
Te'o admitted at the conclusion of the combine that the experience was "exhausting" but said that "I can obviously do a lot better."
And he's going to have to to silence his critics.
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