Manti Te'o could find perfect home with Colts

April 24, 2013
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It will be difficult for the Indianapolis Colts to dramatically move the needle in terms of fan excitement with the 24th pick in this year’s NFL draft. It’s a long way from last year when Andrew Luck energized the fan base as the No. 1 pick.

But one intriguing prospect might be available—if not to team management, then certainly to fans. It’s difficult to ignore that most draft prognosticators have picked Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o to go very near where the Colts are drafting in the first round.

Several draft analysts have Te’o going No. 25 to the Minnesota Vikings. Reports out of New York say Te’o’s stock is rising and he could go as high as No. 19 to the Giants.

The Colts cupboard isn’t bare of linebackers. But it isn’t chock full of stars, either. The Colts are mostly filling the inside linebacker position—where Te’o played his last three years at Notre Dame—with young players still trying to prove they can be consistent contributors.

Most draft analysts think the Colts will seek help on defense, but whether Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson and team owner Jim Irsay want to take a chance on Te’o remains to be seen. ESPN draft prognosticator Mel Kiper Jr. thinks Indianapolis will opt for Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes.

Grigson isn’t tipping his hand, but said that if he sees a guy on the board who could be a future starter—no matter the position—who could help the team win a championship, he’ll think hard about taking him. That would appear to leave the door open for Te’o.

Of course, there are concerns with the ND grad. His 40-yard dash time was less than spectacular and there are questions about whether he’ll hold up on the NFL gridiron. His performance in the national championship game against Alabama and its pro-style offense was awful.

Of course, there’s also the whole girlfriend hoax fiasco. Grigson would have to ponder if Te’o would be a subtraction by distraction.

Indianapolis might be the perfect spot for Te’o to start his professional career. I won’t say the media is soft in this market, but local reporters will be more tender than those in a lot of markets. New York, as much as the Giants like Te’o, would be about the worst place for him to start.

And the fan base here, full of Golden Dome supporters, are likely to be more forgiving and understanding of his past—and perhaps a little more patient with his future development than fans in markets like the Big Apple. That’s not to say Colts fans won’t howl if things go wrong with Te’o here. But they’ll at least give him a chance to get his sea legs.

Te’o is familiar with the 3-4 defense Pagano likes to run, having played in that scheme at Notre Dome. But some NFL scouts fear Te’o may not have the size or strength to flourish in a 3-4 in the NFL. If those doubts drop Te’o’s stock as some have predicted, and he’s available to the Colts beyond the first round, he may be far too much of a bargain for Grigson to pass up despite whatever distractions he may bring.

With all the noise made over Te’o’s fake girlfriend and his slow 40-yard dash, it’s almost easy to forget how good this guy was over an extended period in South Bend.

At the end of 2012, he won eight postseason awards, becoming one of the most decorated collegiate football players of all time.

He won the Bronko Nagurski and Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year Lott trophies as well as the Maxwell, Chuck Bednarik, Butkus, Lombardi and Walter Camp awards. In addition, he was named a national scholar-athlete by the National Football Foundation.

Te'o had 437 tackles in his four-year Notre Dame career. He ranks third all-time in school history behind Bob Crable (521, 1978–81) and Bob Golic (479, 1975–78). He joins Crable as the second player in Notre Dame history to record more than 100 tackles in three consecutive seasons. Te’o also led ND in interceptions his senior season.

Before it was uncovered earlier this year that Te’o’s supposedly dead girlfriend was a hoax, he would have been just the type of player Colts fans would have almost unanimously embraced on and off the field. Te’o said he was duped into thinking his girlfriend was real, a story that was corroborated by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the perpetrator of the hoax.

There’s little middle ground with Te’o. He seems to inspire great passion among football followers. Fans either think he’s going to be the next great NFL linebacker or, like his girlfriend, they consider him a fraud.

When the first round of the NFL draft concludes Thursday, we’ll have a better idea of what Grigson and the rest of the general managers and team owners think.

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  • coltsfan
    He may come in with a real chip on his shoulder and want to prove everyone wrong. I think he could be a good pick.
  • Call me maybe
    Manti, call me! Maybe we can go out again for another catfish dinner. You're a lot more real now that you and NFL star!
  • Seriously?
    It absolutely floors me that this young man's athletic prowess is still being overshadowed over by the fake girlfriend story. Get. Over. It.
  • Give me a break
    Do you really think Manti Te'o could be drafted in the first round by the Colts? They have 3 solid linebackers already with Angerer, Conner and Freeman. Mario Harvey is serviacable as well. My guess is that you just wanted to write about something that would get as many clicks as possible. This was an intriguing headline to your target audience with the draft in 24 hours, Manti being from an Indiana school, his stock on the decline after both the Alabama game & combine and Te'o being in the limelight for the fake gf story. However, even you can't actually think Te'o is a legit target of Grigson. I will just pretend for a moment that you do believe the Colts might consider drafting Manti Te'o. First, it is rediculous that you make the comment, "When the first round of the NFL draft concludes Thursday, we’ll have a better idea of what Grigson and the rest of the general managers and team owners think." This is completely false. Most mock drafts have Te'o going in the late first round to the middle of the second round. If Te'o is not drafted in the first round tomorrow, it will not tell us nothing other than he is likely to go in the second round where a lot of experts are projecting him to. All in all, this was just another piece of lazy journalism. Virtually every sports fan in Indianapolis is familiar with Manti's football accomplishments and off the field fake gf issues. This article would have been more interesting if you would have went into depth about how the Colts need another playmaker to go alongside Jerell Freeman. Or if you wanted to suggest that Angerer and Conner were Polian draft picks more cut out for a 4-3 system and unlikely to be resigned next year when their contracts expire. Perhaps you could have suggested that Mario Harvey was just a short term solution when Grigson made roster moves last year and it is vital the Colts add depth at MLB. Instead, you copy and pasted stats and awards from Manti's Notre Dame career which virtually all sports fans from Indianapolis are already well aware of.
  • Re: Give me a break
    Actually most mock drafts have him going 25th to the Vikings or 32nd to the Ravens. The Vikings like Notre Dame players, they currently have 5 (Kyle Rudolph, Harrison Smith, John Sullivan, John Carlson, R.J. Blanton). While I don't see the Colts drafting him he is definitely going in the first round. Calm down buddy. It was a good article and not completely out of the question for the Colts to look at him especially with Angerer having injury issues. I don't see them drafting him but it is not completely out of the equation which is what he is saying.
  • Doesn't show up every game
    Te'o will be a bust in the NFL. He is good for a few seasons, will be moved around between teams and won't be very successful. He had center stage vs. Alabama and didn't show up. Colts; don't waste a pick on him unless it is in the later rounds. I don't see him being a first round pick unless it is by a team that historically makes poor choices....
  • HA!
    Not even a first round pick! HA!

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