Manti Te’o

Manti Te’o scouting report

Manti Te’o LB Notre Dame #5
Ht: 6’1″
Wt: 241

Size/Athleticism: Prototypical size with adequate strength. Lacks the athleticism to really excel in today’s NFL. He’s a liability in coverage and lacks the elite lateral movement and straight-line speed to be a sideline-to-sideline defender.

Run Defense: Lacks the elite quickness and agility to fight through traffic. He does a nice job diagnosing the play and reacting quickly, but he’s often a step late because he gets caught up in traffic. Struggles to disengage from blocks. Gets swallowed up at the point of attack. Moves downhill at the snap on every running play, which gets offensive linemen the opportunity to quickly get to him and take him out of the play. I’d prefer to see him stay back more often, giving him an extra second to diagnose the play

Pass Rush: Rarely used as a pass-rusher. He isn’t fast enough to catch the offensive line off guard and slip past unblocked, and he isn’t strong enough to shed blocks fast enough to get into the backfield.

Coverage: Limited in coverage due to do very average athleticism. He lacks the fluid hips to turn and run with most tight ends and running backs. He’s physical, so he can fight with the tight end at the line of scrimmage, but when lined up a middle linebacker he’s rarely in position to for that type of interaction. He does have good ball skills, but almost all of his interceptions came from simply being in the right place at the right time. He’s not the type of linebacker who makes plays for himself in coverage, he just capitalizes on mistakes. He does a decent job reading the quarterback when he’s in zone coverage, but he simply lacks the quick-twitch athleticism to read the quarterback and react quickly enough to make a play.

Intangibles: The catfishing incident is something that needs to be considered. While he’s respected by teammates, he has a reputation for keeping to himself off the field. He’s a quiet, religious guy who doesn’t fit the typical mold of a high-profile NFL player. He’s going to be harassed by teammates and opponents about the incident and teams will need to grill him on the subject to ensure that he will be able to handle the scrutiny without letting it affect his performance. At the combine he blamed stress for a poor showing. While there’s no denying that the combine is stressful, so is life in the NFL. Can he handle it? Was stress also the reason for a sub-par showing in the National Championship Game? These are questions that may not affect his grade, but they need to be addressed during the interview process.

Durability: No significant issues.

Comments: The best way to summarize Te’o is to say that he takes advantage of mistakes, but rarely creates plays for himself. When he ends up in the right place at the right time, he’ll finish the play but he rarely makes the athletic play to really stand out as an elite prospect. His athleticism is shaky at best and in today’s NFL, he is going to be a liability in many matchups both in coverage and against teams that run the read option. Another concern with Te’o is the fact the he seems to understand his lack of athleticism, and tries to overcompensate by guessing too often. Here’s a great example from the Alabama game in which he starts to move pre-snap, and ends up yielding an easy touchdown (also note that he’s not even moving in the direction of Lacy’s fake run, he’s purely guessing).

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2013 Leave a comment

Evaluating Manti Te’o’s draft stock

Clearly there are a lot of questions that need to be answered, but I thought it would be worth breaking down where Manti Te’o currently stands in the NFL Draft process. Here are just a few quick thoughts on what he can expect to encounter and how this story may impact his draft stock.

  • For starters, I have to wonder if this influenced Te’o’s decision to skip the Senior Bowl. Since he came forward to Notre Dame about the fake girlfriend on December 26, it’s safe to assume he knew the media would eventually get their hands on it. It’s possible he didn’t want to expose himself to their questions so soon after the story broke.

    Difficult times lie ahead for Te'o.

  • Te’o won’t be able to avoid questions from NFL teams, however. The combine in late February is going to be a miserable experience for him. NFL teams grill players over the tiniest mistakes they have made – even players with little or no serious character concerns in their past. Many teams have a coach or someone working in the front office who is capable of playing the “bad cop” in these interviews and you can bet Te’o will get their best shot in Indy.
  • Even if teams chose to believe Te’o’s side of the story, he will still get grilled about having an online “girlfriend” whom he never met. That’s a difficult concept for most of us to grasp, and I’m sure there are more than a few old school NFL coaches who can’t even fathom the idea. They will want Te’o to explain every last detail about how it happened so that they can better understand him as a person. Teams routinely ask players about their relationships, so this won’t be an unusual line of questioning. But the answers Te’o gives will certainly be interesting.
  • I would not be surprised if some teams remove Te’o from their draft board if his responses to their questions aren’t satisfactory. Te’o’s released statement already doesn’t match up with things he has said in the past. If he fails to clear things up some teams may simply not trust him.
  • Te’o is not an elite prospect, which is why teams may hold this against him. Teams are always willing to be more forgiving of a player with elite physical skills, but Te’o is a fringe first-round prospect with questions about his weight and athleticism. When a player already has concerns, teams tend to look for any excuse to drop them further down the draft board.
  • Additionally, a major plus in Te’o’s scouting report was his intelligence and leadership. This story raises some concerns about the type of person he is – regardless of whether or not he was in on the hoax. NFL teams spend hours evaluating the personality of the players they are about to invest millions of dollars in on draft day. And teams have a profile of the type of person who typically succeeds at the next level. Having a year-long relationship with an online girlfriend who he had never met does not factor into that profile. Whether it’s fair or not, linebackers are supposed to be loud, confident, type-A personalities. Some teams will definitely look past this issue, but don’t underestimate the old-school mentality that still exists in many NFL locker rooms and front offices. There will be teams who are concerned with Te’o’s ability to fit in and be a leader.
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2013 NFL Draft Leave a comment

NFL Draft Stock Report: Risers and Falls

Manti Te’o – LB – Notre Dame
Te’o  has developed into a more well-rounded linebacker this season, as I outlined on Bleacher Report earlier this week. As the unquestioned leader of the Irish defense and a four-year starter, Te’o also has all the intangibles that teams look for in a potential 1st-round pick. Entering the season I thought he was a fringe 1st-rounder, but he’s solidified his place among the top 32 picks in my opinion.

Stepfan Taylor – RB – Stanford
Taylor has been a workhorse for the Cardinal this year and is well on his way a third consecutive 1,000-yard season. Taylor entered the year a mid-round prospect, but his performance against USC caught the attention of scouts and he may have chance to climb into the top 50. It helps that this is a weak class of running backs, with only one prospect who looks like a 1st-round lock (Marcus Lattimore).

Dri Archer – RB – Kent State
Archer is a junior and will likely return for his senior year, but he is definitely an under-the-radar name to know. He’s listed at 5,8″, 164 pounds but is as explosive as anyone in the college game. Through three games this season Archer is averaging 8.6 yards per carry, 9.9 yards per reception and 42.2 yards per kickoff return. He has the type of explosive speed that could land him a spot in the 3rd or 4th round if a team is looking to add a new dimension to their offense.

Montee Ball – RB – Wisconsin
Ball left the Badgers game this past weekend with a head injury, which may have been his second concussion since this summer. In addition to the injuries, Ball has not looked like the same running back without the help of Russell Wilson, Kevin Zeitler and Peter Konz. At this stage, Ball looks like a fringe day-two prospect, and could easily slip into the 4th round or later.

Logan Thomas – QB – Virginia Tech
I still believe Thomas has a chance to be the No. 1 pick in the draft based on his enormous potential, but it’s hard not to take notice of his struggles the past two weeks. In each of the Hokies past two games (vs Pittsburgh, Bowling Green) he’s completed less than 50 percent of his passes. Inconsistent play from his number-one receiver, Marcus Davis, definitely doesn’t help, but Thomas needs to step up his game down the stretch to remain in the mix to be the top selection in April.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2013 NFL Draft Leave a comment

Manti Te’o scouting report

Manti Te’o LB Notre Dame #5
Ht: 6’2″
Wt: 255

Size/Athleticism: Prototypical size and strength for an inside linebacker, and could easily shift to strong-side linebacker in a 4-3 scheme. Straight-line speed is more than adequate for the position. Not as quick and fluid as he is fast, but not necessarily weak in that area either.

Run Defense: Excellent recognition ability. A tackling machine, but more so due to his ability to put himself in position to make a play than his raw athleticism. A scrappy player who can fight through traffic. Despite his size, doesn’t shed blocks as quicky and consistently as you’d expect. Once he’s engaged with an offensive linemen, he can be taken out of a play fairly easily. Fast enough to make some plays in pursuit. Not an elite athlete, and will get juked out of some would-be tackles in the open field, but is very strong fundamentally and rarely misses a tackle once he’s got someone wrapped up.

Pass Rush: Relatively effective when rushing off the edge. Lacks the strength to ever be a pure pass rusher, but has the speed to be effective in certain situations. Does a nice job staying low when turning the corner, making him tough for taller offensive linemen to get a hand on him. Not as effective when blitzing up the middle. Does a really nice job fighting through traffic against the run, but isn’t explosive or agile enough to slip through holes in the line, which are skills needed to be an effective pass rusher from the inside linebacker position.

Coverage: Looks comfortable in zone coverage. Does a great job reading the quarterback and putting himself in position to make plays. Limited experience in man coverage and lacks the fluid athleticism to excel in this area. He has the straight-line speed to get downfield but just doesn’t have the quickness to stay with the elite pass-catching tight ends that he’ll see at the next level. He’ll excel when matched up with short-yardage pass-catchers (such as Gronkowski) due his fundamentals and physical style of play, but he shouldn’t be asked to cover the hybrid tight end/receivers (such as Jermichael Finley).

Intangibles: Four-year starter with plenty of experience against top competition. Clashed with head coach Brian Kelly at times, but Kelly’s brash coaching style is at least partially to blame. I wouldn’t expect his attitude to be an issue in the pros.

Durability: Suffered a sprained knee during during 2010 bowl game and had minor knee surgery in the offseason, and was limited during spring practices. Suffered a broken nose in 2010, but played through the injury. Played on an injured ankle for much of the 2011 season.

Comments: Te’o is one of the more recognizable names in this draft class and, as a result, is probably a little overrated. He’s a classic example of a prospect who does everything well but nothing great. He definitely has NFL starter potential, but his upside is somewhat limited. He could be a great pick for a team that needs to plug a hole immediately, because his experience and strong fundamentals makes him one of the more NFL-ready prospects in this draft. However, I don’t expect to see significant development once he’s in the pros. Basically, what you see is what you get.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2013 Leave a comment

Manti Te’o scouting report

Manti Te’o ILB Notre Dame #4
Ht: 6’2″
Wt: 255
Prototypical size and strength. Excels against the run. Reliable tackler; a hard hitter but also has great fundamentals and rarely misses an open-field tackle. Does a decent job shedding blocks to get into the backfield. Adequate speed; shows sideline-to-sideline ability. Exceptional vision; keeps eyes in the backfield and does an excellent job reacting to the ball carrier and putting himself in position to make plays. A team leader on the field.
Marginal coverage ability. Limited experience in man coverage and may lack the fluid athleticism to match up with some of the NFL’s elite pass-catching tight ends and running backs. Doesn’t have speed to stick with tight ends on deep routes; needs to be supported by a safety when asked to drop into coverage.
Te’o is a polished run defender who has the skills to play inside or outside at the next level. He may actually be best suited to shift to strong-side linebacker in a scheme which requires more pass rushing and less dropping into coverage. His upside is limited somewhat due to average athleticism, but his fundamentals and on-field awareness have already developed to the point where he is one of the safest bets in this year’s draft class.


Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2012 Leave a comment