Manti Te’o's Pro Day performance changes little for 2013 NFL Draft
During Notre Dame’s Pro Day on Tuesday, Manti Te’o reportedly dropped as much as a tenth of a second off his lumbering 4.82 40 time from February’s scouting combine.
Sure, that’s a nice accomplishment for Te’o after he took heat for his subpar combine showing. The reality, though, is that any team relying on Te’o's Pro Day showing to make up its mind about the controversial linebacker has missed the boat already.
That puts Te’o in a different class than, say, Matt Barkley, whose draft potential may hinge on his showing at USC’s Wednesday Pro Day; or any number of cornerbacks and wide receivers, who must prove their speed to be NFL-worthy.
Te’o is not the same type of prospect.
At this point, there is very little mystery when it comes to his game. He is not the greatest athlete you’ll ever see, nor is he capable of shifting positions — like so many other linebackers in this draft class — and playing outside in a 3-4 or 4-3. Te’o's on-field performance always has surpassed what one might expect from a player with his physical traits.
Such truths probably will not change in the NFL, whether Te’o is a 4.8 or 4.7 40 linebacker.
The real test for Te’o during this pre-draft process, ever since the details of his “relationship” with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo came to light, was how he would perform in one-on-one interviews with teams. While a Pro Day allows Te’o to show he’s gained a little speed or strength here and there, his showings in those interviews — be it talking about his “catfishing” scandal or breaking down Xs and Os — is what will make or break his draft stock.
If you take all of the external factors off the table, Te’o presents as a decent but not elite prospect. He averaged 124.7 tackles over his final three seasons at Notre Dame and picked off seven passes in 2012, while earning a spot as a Heisman finalist.
All of that production certainly makes him a draftable prospect, possibly even a first-rounder for a linebacker-needy team. But does one decent 40 at his Pro Day offset shaky outings against the likes of Alabama and Pittsburgh?
Hardly. When it comes right down to it, teams base the majority of their draft decisions on game tapes and those face-to-face meetings. The combine and Pro Days are just tiny pieces of the puzzle.
So, while Te’o's Pro Day numbers may provide him a little public momentum, there is little he could have done Tuesday to alter drastically the direction of teams’ private discussions.