Manti Te’o looks like a first-round pick, but Alabama game will hurt


Alabama dominated Notre Dame in Monday night’s college football national championship game, and Alabama’s offense was particularly successful going directly at what was supposed to be the strength of Notre Dame’s defense: The Crimson Tide ran for 265 yards, often going right up the middle at linebacker Manti Te’o, who was widely regarded as the best defensive player in college football in 2012. So will that game affect Te’o’s draft stock?

Mike Mayock is well-positioned to have an opinion about that, because Mayock spends the football season as NBC’s commentator on Notre Dame games, and he spends the offseason as NFL Network’s draft analyst. And Mayock said today on Mike and Mike in the Morning that he thinks there’s a risk of people overreacting to one bad game from Te’o and dropping him further than he deserves to be dropped — but Mayock also thinks it’s valid to point out that Te’o struggled when facing future NFL offensive linemen and future NFL running backs against the Crimson Tide.

“I think the first thing you have to do is not have a major knee-jerk reaction,” Mayock said. “Let’s look at this kid’s body of work over four years. I think the second thing, though — and being real honest here — is that most NFL teams are going to look at that Bama team and say, ‘OK, that’s the most NFL-type team he has seen in four years, and how did he play in that game?’ I haven’t seen the tape yet, but everything I saw live tells me it wasn’t real good. So it’s going to be factored in, and teams are going to look at it and teams are going to ask him questions about it. But overall, the body of his work tells me he’s a first-round draft pick in the NFL.”

We noted before the Alabama game that Te’o was widely regarded as a first-round draft pick, but there were questions about his speed in pass coverage. If the Alabama game has raised further questions about how good he is against the run, then Te’o may end up falling further than most people expect. Even if he still looks like a first-round pick.

85 responses to “Manti Te’o looks like a first-round pick, but Alabama game will hurt

  1. He looked like a JV player against Alabama. He’ll go in round 1, but a lot later than he would have if he showed up in that championship game. Instead he was rolled.

  2. It was certainly a pretty bad game for him, but he’s done well against Stanford and their future pro offensive linemen for several years. The immediacy will hurt him, but perhaps more than is due; he’ll be a good value for a later team than he would have gone to before.

  3. Remember when everyone said David DeCastro would be a top 12 pick, and the Steelers pounced on him?

    I see a similar situation with Te’o this year 🙂

  4. I doubt he drops out of the top 10 with this weak draft class. Probably will still in the 4-7 range unless he bombs his combine.

  5. Since Notre Dame thinks they are so special that they should get special privileges, maybe they should lobby the NFL so that any of their players invited to the Heisman ceremony HAS to be taken in the first 5 picks, and if they win the Heisman the player has to be taken number one.

  6. Wouldn’t take him in the first round, unless I was picking between 25-32.

    While I believe he will have a good pro career, he didn’t look like the kind of game changer you draft that high.

    He didn’t look a great player having a bad game, he looked flat-out over matched. He wasn’t double teamed, and they certainly weren’t running away from him.

    They were running over him.

  7. He was widely regarded as the best defensive player this year? By who?

    Jadaveon Clowney was the best player I saw. Both Jarvis Jones AND Alec Ogletree from UGA are better, IMO.

    Te’o had one good year against sub-par competition. We saw what he looked like against a good team. 2nd to 3rd round, IMO.

  8. He did not have many sacks(not a pass rusher), he is not in the top 50 in tackles(not good against the run), he did have a lot of interceptions but you are saying there are questions about his speed in pass coverage. To me that is 3 question marks. A high pick can have one but 3? I have not see it all year. If he played for Alabama no one would have heard of him.

  9. Manti Te’o is nowhere near the talent of AJ Hawk. Haters hate on AJ, but you do something right to last with the same NFL team 7 years.

    Te’o was nowhere near the best defensive player in college football and should have never been invited to Heisman ceremony. The was a pure marketing campaign by ND/ESPN to get more viewers.

  10. Bring him to Minnesota… Put him back on a defense with Harrison Smith and on a team with established ND Pros like Kyle Rudolph, John Sullivan, and John Carlson…

    I’d take him in our linebacking corps.

  11. He looked great up unitl that game but after that he might be heading for an Aaron Curry type career

  12. I am a ND fan and I think Teo could be the next Rey Maualuga. All I could see with Manti was missed tackle after missed tackle against NFL caliber running backs from Alabama. If you watched Rey against Texans it looked just about the same. ND is a media darling so Manti was going to get a lot of press regardless.

  13. That’s the beauty of the draft, you never know until he is there. I hope he does well and I wouldn’t mind him coming to the Bolts. Would be great to see another uso as a ILB again in a Bolts uniform.

  14. As a Fighting Irish and Ravens fan, I’d take him in a heartbeat. His leadership and character alone speak for themselves. I hope the rest the league just judges him based on the Championship game and he falls to Baltimore.

  15. He’ll be fine in the NFL if he’s on a team with a DL that occupies blocks.

    The reason ‘bama owned him is that they owned ND’s line. He’s ok when disengaging from blocks thrown by TEs, but the Tide completely rolled ND’s defensive tackles and made THEM look silly. As a result, T’eo was getting blocked by guys who outweigh him by almost 100 lbs.

    All this said, he’s NOT a Ray Lewis-level talent (yet — but who is?). Total stud LBs can regularly disengage from blocks thrown by interior linemen and still make plays. Maybe someday, though. For now, he looks like a solid nickel LB.

  16. khennigan says:

    As a Fighting Irish and Ravens fan, I’d take him in a heartbeat.
    As a Steelers fan, that would suit me just fine. But as a Bama fan, I know Ozzie … and I just don’t think so 🙂

  17. The media has such an irrational infatuation with Notre Dame that their team and players are consistently overrated and placed higher on the pedastal than deserved. Didn’t Ron Powlus win three straight Heismans?

  18. If Te’o were to somehow fall all the way into Ozzie Newsome’s lap, I would run through the streets of Baltimore screaming in glee like a little girl.

  19. Entertaining to watch Mayock try to walk that line between credibility as an analyst and “how do I make sure I keep my job calling all these Notre Dame games.”

    Teo looks like the type of player that can be a solid part of an already established defense. He is in NO WAY a game changer.

  20. You’ve seen the commercial. Alabama was the snowball, and ND was the car!
    Now, this LB will get his chance for personal redemption in April. We will soon know if he can hack it in the NFL, where almost everyone is a big snowball to tackle.

  21. khennigan says:Jan 11, 2013 11:46 AM

    As a Fighting Irish and Ravens fan, I’d take him in a heartbeat.
    Great regular season play, then chokes in the big game – I agree he’s a perfect fit for the Ravens.

  22. “bengaltillidie says: Jan 11, 2013 11:46 AM

    Oh and how the ND haters come out. Green eyed envy big time.”

    What are people supposed to be envious of?

    The fact that the program has been largely irrelevant for 20 years up to this year, or the fact that they’ve lost their last 3 bowl games by 30+ points (strongly pointing to the fact that they didn’t deserve to be there)?

  23. He had a horrible game — 7 missed tackles I believe – so horrible that an amber alert had to be issued to find this guy.

    BUT I think having a poor showing out there will only motivate him. He is a great character guy with great work ethic and heart. Also a great leader. He’s not a run stuffer but he’s decent in coverage (7 INTs his senior year). Those intangibles may put him in the top 20 despite one bad game.

  24. There was one or two plays where he shot a gap, and had clean shots at the RB. RB brushed him off like a gnat. If you’re a top defensive player, you stop the RB. He will be a top pick, but will not be a great pro. You can only be a leader if you can play.

  25. bengaltillidie says: Jan 11, 2013 11:46 AM

    Oh and how the ND haters come out. Green eyed envy big time.

    No envy, just sick and tired of the bluster. Besides, most of us watched the Stanford and Pitt games (wink).

  26. blueballz77 says: Jan 11, 2013 11:42 AM

    I think he will have value as a leader I wouldn’t mind at all if NY Giants took him not at all.

    We have enough slow linebackers. And at least Blackburn knows where to be in order to actually make impact plays.

  27. His drop in draft status probably only reflects that, through no fault of his own, he was mercilessly hyped up because 1) his team was undefeated and, 2) his team was the storied Notre Dame.

    It can be argued that he was not properly prepared for the SEC/’Bama style football they encountered at the BCSCG–Saban’s Tide made their whole team look like a HS squad.

    In the pros, he’ll be coached at pro level and will be surround by pro level teammates. Here’s hoping the instincts he exhibited this season are translated to the next level.

  28. Reminds me Paul Posluzny. Great college player, will be an average NFL player. Not worthy of a 1st round pick.

  29. You’ll have to forgive me for not taking Mike Mayock’s word for any prospect’s value. This is the same guy that said Blaine Gabbert was the most NFL ready QB in his draft class. ‘Nuff Said!

  30. That’s cool.. now he can fall to the Vikings. I’m not worried about 1 game, Blair Walsh had a terrible last year at school and now he’s the best kicker in the NFC.

  31. Te’o has the size and athletic ability, what lacked in that game against Bama was decent enough coaching to put Te’o in the right position. An NFL coordinator with some time to coach this kid up will get a decent return on investment.

  32. Wow a ton of you are transferring your ND hate onto a good guy just cause he played and graduated from ND. I hope he turns out to be the next “insert elite LB that’s leads a Premier NFL D”. Man I can’t stand haters.

  33. I hope he falls to the Steelers, he would be exactly the kind of player they need to usher in the new generation of talent on the team and would be a stud for 10+ seasons.

  34. I think that him dropping to a low first round pick is the best thing that could happen to him. Low picks mean competitive teams. Bring him into sit behind someone that is a shining star but on their way out of the league. Get him strength training and conditioning at the NFL level with a good LB coach and then let him loose on the league in his second season.

    I could see him plugging into the Steelers behind Larry Foote, but there are too many other needs on the team to take him in the first round.

    Baltimore, Dallas, Buffalo, and New York (Jets) would all benefit from having a MLB with his level of talent and leadership.

  35. It’s hard to say , his job was easier with the big boys up front . Linebackers jobs are easy when you have really good defensive tackles in front to keep the lineman off you. So really your performance is solely judged in instincts and tackling which he had a really bad game against nfl type competition. That being said he had the right intangibles leadership and football iq you want from a teammate. If still draft him high but not top 15 . Give bamas offensive line credit they were the real reason he looked bad

  36. “widely regarded as the best defensive player in college football” rotflmao not by anyone who has a clue! Clowney is the best Defensive player in NCAA i think that everyone knows that hell he isn’t even the best LB coming out this year Jarvis Jones UGA

  37. Saw this on twitter seems like it belongs here:

    “Manti Te’o translated to English means Brian Bosworth.”

  38. I’d take him in Buffalo, the Bills linebackers couldn’t cover anbody this year, and Te’o had 7 picks. With our D-line, the tackles will come, I’m for it.

  39. I would love to see him in black and yellow!

    His d-line did nothing to eat up blockers. Nobody on the line commanded two ‘bama linemen.

  40. eventhorizon04 and Mr. Wright you confirm what I said about envy. The media loves ND and that is hard for a lot of people to take. Just like the Yankees, easy to love or hate.

  41. We haven’t drafted a diesel MLB since Harry Carson a generation ago. I’ll take him.

  42. weekendatberniemadoffs says: Jan 11, 2013 12:55 PM

    Te’o < Kuechly

    And it's not even close.

  43. No one’s noting that the irony of all this is that dropping in the late 1st round is actually a blessing for some guys.

    Going in the top 10 means you’re going to the bad teams. Teams where you can be exposed because of the lack of talent elsewhere on the roster.

    Now imagine dropping to the Ravens, Packers, Patriots, Steelers, 49ers, Giants of the league.

    Better coaching, better talent, and better chance to succeed.

  44. I have no envy. I am a Florida State fan, and no, you don’t get to bring up the 1940s and 50s to try and counter it. Have no reason to envy Notre Dame. The Stepfan Taylor was in the end zone and that was no pass interference on Pitt on 4th and 10 against Eifert. Then again, facts are often lost on Notre Dame fans who are still coming to grips with their program being relevant for the first time in 20 years.

  45. Mayock asks the observer to examine T’eo’s body of work over the past 4 years. He was impressive at times, but against usually inferior opponents. He played like he was wearing cement shoes against Alabama, which has the type of players he will see at the next level. I think his performance the other night greatly hurt his position in the draft.

  46. My fellow Giants fans, please stop it. There are several other LBs who are way better. And he is not going to usurp Blackburn to play Mike. Not fast enough to play Sam or Will. Reese will make the right move — i.e. the kid Jones from UGA or Vince Williams from FSU — if he drafts a LB.

  47. I think he is a 4 round draft pick.he is a notch below average.The hype helped him and mayock is being kind to him.He will not go till the 3rd are 4th round…just watch

  48. The Tide offensive people saw a weakness and exploited it.

    Perhaps with NFL caliber people around him, he will do a lot better.

    He seems to be a good kid with a lot of character. If so, he knows playing in the NFL is not an end in itself.

    All the best to him.

  49. The first ND game I watched was this BCS game. The guy looked like a deer in the headlights to me. He couldn’t tackle anything.
    But of course the last “sure thing” from a BCS game I saw was JaMarcus Russell and Rolando McClain, and we know how those observations turned out.

  50. Is there a more tired response than those that use the word “hater” to describe someone that doesn’t agree with them?

  51. A name for anyone who “falls” in love with a MLB and wants your team to take him with a high pick:

    Rolando McClain

    I will admit I thought it was a good pick for the Raiders (and if I remember right several Giant fans wanted him also that year). Can’t remember what Mayock said about him, but it several draft experts bought into the crap that Saban said about him (team leader/film junkie) and for an Al Davis pick, several folks approved.

    However it was a disaster for the franchise (not quite the JaMarcus Russell instead of Calvin Johnson, but close) and every bad 1st rounder take years to fix (see Kansas City Chiefs love affairs with taking DTs in the first round…Especially ones from LSU).

    I was hoping Te’o would be there for the Raiders at #3 but now I thinking DT/DE or the stud OT from A&M if he falls that far (don’t think he will).

    You can’t EVER have enough good OL or DL…Heck Nagata added five more productive years to the back end of Ray Lewis’ career and I am sure Peyton Manning is happy to have Clady watching his backside in Denver.

  52. vincentbojackson says: Jan 11, 2013 4:05 PM

    Is there a more tired response than those that use the word “hater” to describe someone that doesn’t agree with them?

    No, there isn’t. Tried hard to think of one, but there isn’t one currently in existence. Funniest is fans who are newfound to being in big games (this entire generation of Redskins fans whose lives have consisted of terrible teams, for example) who brag and gloat every day, then their teams lose or are eliminated and become so defensive that they call everyone who isn’t doing snow jobs on their teams a “hater”.

  53. Hey remember when JaMarcus had a great bowl game against ND?
    It’s only one game people.

  54. JaMarcus had a great game against a college team. Why? Because he was physically superior to college players.

    JaMarcus failed as a pro because he didn’t have the intangibles – work ethic, IQ, leadership, determination, etc. – and he didn’t have enough talent to overcome these weaknesses.

    Manti had a bad game against a great college team. Why? Because he didn’t have the physical talent to compete. He has the intangibles. But intangibles mean nothing if you don’t have the physical ability.

    Best thing for Manti is to drop into the 3rd round. No expectations and he can build his confidence over time.

  55. meanfastgood says:
    Jan 12, 2013 3:31 AM


    JaMarcus failed as a pro because he didn’t have the intangibles – work ethic, IQ, leadership, determination, etc. – and he didn’t have enough talent to overcome these weaknesses.
    Just about every LSU fan knew this and the Raiders drafted him #1.

    Why? I guess cuz they were the Raiders.

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