Titans: Why Manti Te’o is still a Top 15 Draft Pick, IMO

Mike Ehrmann

Whad'ya know: August West says pump the brakes, stops writing in the third person starting... now.

Judging any player based on one game after a near two-month layoff is bad scouting at best. If you could sum up a player's projected career arc in one BCS Championship game, then Nick Fairley should be in the HOF already.

Not to say what we watched last night was pretty. I'd be much more down on Te'o if the entire defense to a man didn't suffer from the exact same problems: a fear-based gameplan and uncharacteristically bad tackling. Add in the complete lack of athleticism in the Notre Dame's secondary, and it was a recipe for disaster.

Manti Te'o is still the player he was back in November. He was the co-captain, most prolific performer and deserved Heisman finalist for a defense that dominated for 12 straight games against FBS opponents, including two top 10 and two more top 20 teams. While Te'o won't get 7 INTs a year in the NFL, you'd be a fool to underestimate his ability to be an impact player.

Even Kirk Herbstreit noted in game that they'd watched film of every Notre Dame game, and only found two missed tackles by Te'o all season. TWO. It seems pretty obvious to me that Notre Dame's entire defense went soft over the break, perhaps from not practicing at full speed enough... who knows.

Also, regarding the point that Te'o got washed out of a lot of plays by Alabama's stellar guards: that's going to happen to the vast majority of MLBs at every level. Even the might Brian Urlacher has posted subpar years when his DTs can't keep him clean. It's a basic fact of defense, and a reason the best offensive lines are capable of getting into the second level without compromising their gaps.

All that is to say that while Te'o certainly disappointed last night, he had lots of help at sucking. From this Titans fan's point of view, Te'o didn't drop very far last night, and no work-outs, sprints or shuttle drills will drop him in my rankings either.

What bit he did drop is to make room for any member of Alabama's offensive line who makes their services available in the draft. Every last one of those guys is worthy of our top two picks in a heartbeat.

And with that, I'm off to take a shower... because I feel incredibly dirty after having to hear 120 year-old Brent Musberger fawn and lust over a 23-year old all night. Much props to Herbstreit for staying above the fray on that bit.

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