Putting the fake dead girlfriend aside, the biggest question NFL teams have about former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o is whether his bad performance against Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game indicates that he folds against NFL-quality competition. Unsurprisingly, Te’o doesn’t see it that way.
Te’o knows people say that because Alabama was the best team he played, and because Alabama was the worst game of his senior year, that must mean that when he plays against the kind of NFL talent that Alabama has, he can’t compete. But while visiting the Lions on Tuesday, he told the team’s website that that perception is inaccurate.
“It’s a little frustrating that people look at one game and say that was the closest thing to an NFL team that I had faced, not giving credit to all the other teams that I played,” Te’o told detroitlions.com. “So you’re saying Stanford isn’t an NFL team; Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue and USC. [Alabama] is definitely a game I didn’t do as well as I could have, but it’s not something I felt could define my career at Notre Dame.”
It’s true that Alabama wasn’t the only good team on Notre Dame’s schedule during Te’o's senior year, but it’s also true that Alabama had future NFL players on the offensive line and at running back with Eddie Lacy, and that Alabama running game ran right over Te’o. That has to be a concern.
“I can always get better, and I’m going to get better,” Te’o said.
If an NFL team is going to spend a first-round draft pick on Te’o, that team will have to be convinced that he will get a lot better than he was against Alabama.