Manti Te’o Fails to Impress On Field at NFL Combine

Manti Te'o - NFL Combine
Indianapolis, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te’o runs the 40 yard dash during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Photo: Brian Spurlock / USA TODAY Sports)

By all accounts, Manti Te’o did a great job off the field at the NFL Combine clearing up any character questions that remained after the bizarre girlfriend hoax story from earlier this year.  Conversely, by all accounts, he was not able to turn in as impressive of a performance on the field during drills.

In the marquee events of the combine, the 40 yard dash, Te’o ran just over 4.8 seconds in both attempts despite weighing in at a svelte 241 lbs after playing his senior season around 255.  Those two runs combined with the last impression of him on the field in the BCS Championship have his stock tumbling with the draft approaching.

Te’o’s 40 time alone doesn’t have his stock falling though.  Notre Dame’s most decorated linebacker of all-time didn’t place in the top 5 in any of the events that he participated in.  One afternoon of events completed in compression shorts and running shoes shouldn’t outweigh the body of work that Te’o compiled over the last four years in shoulder pads and a helmet, but in a stats driven league, measurables are highly valued.

It wasn’t all bad for Te’o though, he looked comfortable in coverage and showed good hands in the other drills that didn’t measure just straight line speed proving that Te’o is more a football player than an athlete.

There are plenty of examples of players who turned in subpar performances at the Combine and went on to have great NFL careers and conversely there are countless examples of workout warriors who posted eye popping numbers at the Combine only to have mediocre at best NFL careers – I am thinking about you Mike Mamula. However, with concerns raised over Te’o’s game from his performance against Alabama and then the off the field stuff, he needed a really strong performance to build some momentum.

That just didn’t happen on the field for the All-American linebacker.  Off the field, Te’o reportedly knocked his interviews out of the park.  On it though, his performance probably wasn’t enough to push him back towards the top end of the 1st round.  Instead, some draft pundits are now wondering if he could fall out of the first round completely.

For instance, some Philadelphia Eagles beat writers have already said that Te’o might not be an option for the Eagles with their 2nd round pick which is #35 overall.  As an Eagles fan, I would love to see Te’o fall into the Eagles lap in the second round, especially with the Eagles planning on switching to a 3-4 defense this year under new head coach Chip Kelly but something tells me even with all of the speculation, someone is going to grab Te’o before then.

Manti will get another chance to impress NFL scouts at Notre Dame’s Pro Day on March 26.  If he can get his 40 time closer to 4.7 he will start to ease some concerns teams have with him on the field and he could solidify his place in the first round.  Considering the exhausting schedule Te’o was on in Indianapolis that included meeting with 20 of the 32 NFL teams and nights that ended as late at 1:00 AM and days that started as early as 4:00 AM, it is very conceivable that he will do just that.

Zeke Motta will run through drills tomorrow with the rest of the defensive back on the last day of the NFL Combine.  It is unclear which, if any, drills Jamoris Slaughter will run through tomorrow.

Earlier at the combine, Tyler Eifert was able to impress scouts and now looks like a lock to be a first round selection and the first tight end selected.  Meanwhile, Cierre Wood turned in an all around solid performance while Theo Riddick will be looking to improve on his performance at Notre Dame’s Pro Day as well.


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  1. Does anyone remember Brad Shearer?

    Brad Shearer was a consensus All-American in 1977 at Texas. He also won the Outland Trophy that year. He was considered a sure thing, a consensus top 10 pick in the 1978 NFL draft. He was being compared to some of the great college and NFL defensive linemen of all time. Just re-watch the 1978 Cotton Bowl on DVD or online and hear Lindsey Nelson and Paul Hornung talk Shearer up.

    But, as we all know here, Texas was destroyed by ND in the 1978 Cotton Bowl. Shearer in particular had a terrible game and was controlled by ND’s center and guards. His number or name were barely called all game long.

    Shearer went from consensus top 10 pick to the third round to the Bears. From being labelled a possible all-time great, he lasted only 3 years with the Bears and never really played much.

    I can’t help but think of Brad Shearer when I think of Manti Te’o. It’s almost as if Shearer never recovered from the national championship game in 1978. I hope the same doesn’t happen to Manti. Some said ND’s O line exposed Shearer. We’ve heard the same about Te’o being exposed at this year’s NC game by Bama’s O.

    I’m not sure why I wrote this. Just felt there was a kind of weird symmetry between the rapid fall of both Brad Shearer and Manti Te’o.

    Like I said, I hope my comparison is dead wrong. I hope Manti has a great NFL career (so long as it’s not with Cinci or Baltimore!).

    Go Irish!

  2. Te’o’s gone from the ultimate high to the lowest low in a couple of months. He has a good head on his shoulders and is a very good athlete. I think he’ll bounce back at the pro day, be a first rounder with a solid NFL career. GO IRISH!

  3. I’ll take his play on the field over combine numbers anyday. His read and react time is alot faster than most, which is why he was always in the right place at the right time. The big difference in the championship game were the missed tackles.

    1. Indeed. I will never forget seeing Teo’s picture plastered all over CNN and Fox etc. right next to Lance Armstrong. The discussion of the, ahem, “journalists” was about lying/criminality in sports. As if Manti Teo and Lance Armstrong are 2 peas in a pod and their stories are analogous.

      The mainstream media is a mix of people who run the gamut from incompetent boobs to nefarious scums.

    2. Yet when LSU & Alabama offer a scholarship to a 8th grader no one bats an eye!

      Nothing like building up the hopes and dreams of an impressionable 13yr old.

      Heaven forbid the “kid” should suffer a severe injury and his world comes crashing down around him when Nicky Satin yanks the rug out from under him!

      Whats next… getting them while they are still in the womb like they do with race horses?

      1. Doesn’t matter to SEC schools. They oversign players and let the chips fall where they may. Go to and see exactly what I’m talking about.

      2. Oh man, don’t get me started with the whole oversigning thing!

        I could go along with a program that over signs 1 or 2 players for insurance against a possiable academic loss or a medical hardship loss.

        But Alabama oversigns a full 10 players, and they do this all the time.

        In my opinion they don’t go out and get the top recruiting classes (or near top classes) year after year, and over sign on each of them just in an attempt to build a better team.
        They intentionally over sign the nations top talent in order to keep other programs from building better teams.

        That has SEC and Nick Saban bullshit written all over it.

        But that’s just my opinion!

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