Manti Te'o is coming off a very good season to end a very good collegiate career at Notre Dame. Te'o, a 6'2" inside linebacker, started 49 games for the Fighting Irish over the past four seasons where he amassed 437 tackles, 34 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 17 passes defensed, and seven interceptions. Te'o was a fiery leader for the Irish who ended up in the hunt for the Heisman
It would seem his play on the field impressed, at least most, experts, as he found himself among the top 10 overall draft prospects on many draft boards for the 2013 NFL Draft. Several analysts have Te'o listed as their top inside line backer coming out of college. Prior to recent media events, Te'o was a consensus first round talent.
Things start to become a little murkier, however, when one starts to examine the line backer's personal life. While all the facts are not yet known, it would seem that Te'o has either been the victim a a very elaborate and heartless hoax where he was embarrassingly duped, or he, himself was involved in an elaborate hoax to dupe the college and NFL football worlds. This scandal involves an Internet girlfriend who, over years of electronic corespondence, became the love of Manti's life. Then in a tragic ending, she became stricken with cancer and died, leaving a grieving Te'o to mourn her passing. Then came the shocking part. The girl never existed. There was a man posing as the girlfriend all along.
Now the whole of the football media is scrambling to find out if this man tricked the Notre Dame line backer or if the athlete was in on the scam.
How will this effect the draft stock of Manti Te'o? Many say if he can really play in a style that will transition to the pro game, it will have little effect. Others maintain that if teams think he was involved, there will be too many trust issues and he will drop down, or off, their draft boards.
This is what I think. If scouts decide the kid can play, he will be drafted high and all this will be a memory as long as he has a strong rookie season. I could be wrong, though. Maybe he'll drop on draft day. Perhaps, next would be a call from Marvin Lewis, followed by a break out pre-season, finally ending in Te'o starting along side Vontaze Burfict in 2013.