Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o began to have some serious doubts raised about his prospect status when the Alabama Crimson Tide bowled him over in the National Championship Game, running the ball down the collective throats of the Notre Dame defense in their way to a big win. The whole catfish hoax with Lennay Kekua aside, that was the real hit to his status as a top prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft, or at least it should have been. Now, after checking in smaller than expected and running slow 40 times, Manti Te'o has tested poorly enough to give credence to the concerns raised by his performance against Alabama.
Even though he was the runner-up in the Heisman Trophy voting, Manti Te'o put up great regular season numbers his senior season and rode a massive hype train to becoming a serious contender for the award given to the most outstanding college football player. The clash between the defensive front seven he anchored and the massive, physical offensive line featured by the Alabama Crimson Tide was thought to be a heavyweight collision, but it ended up being a one-sided offensive beat down. That title game raised questions about Manti Te'o and his ability to hold up against the big offensive lines in the NFL. Those concerns now have even more to them after the 2013 NFL Combine.
Listed at Notre Dame as 6-2, 255, Manti Te'o checked in at 6-1, 241, which is a much smaller overall build than expected. At the combine, he really disappointed in the 40-yard dash, clocking in at 4.82 seconds in the chosen test of speed. Those times are slower than Lane Johnson (4.72) and Terron Armstead (4.71), both 300-pound offensive linemen that Manti Te'o will be expected to beat with athleticism at the next level. He clearly doesn't have the size to take them on head-on consistently.
Checking in at 6-1, 241 with a 40-yard dash in the 4.8 range is close to "LOL" status for NFL middle linebackers. There are plenty of NFL middle linebackers at that size, but with much better speed than that shown by Manti Te'o at the NFL Combine. It will lead NFL teams to re-watch the film on Manti Te'o at Notre Dame, and they will probably find that he benefited from a defensive line that allowed him to flow freely throughout the regular season. When faced with an offensive line that was able to get to the next level and get hands on him, Te'o struggled mightily. That's a big problem when it comes to his 2013 NFL Draft stock.
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