Prospect: Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre DameManti Te'o

Height: 6’1¼”

Weight: 241 lb.


  • Not a special athlete at the linebacker position, open field speed to pursue the ball merely average
  • Light on his feet with loose hips to turn or change directions cleanly
  • Lacks suddenness consistently elude blockers or use feet to help shed
  • Plays with a wide base and displays good balance through contact
  • Perfect build for a linebacker with a solid and pro-ready frame
  • Sufficient strength from lower and upper body to play between the tackles and take on big blockers


  • Diagnoses plays quickly in the running game and reacts accordingly
  • Very disciplined in run fits with an understanding of gap integrity
  • Occasionally struggles to locate the ball on misdirection or well-sold fakes
  • Experienced linebacker with 35 career starts for the Irish
  • High effort pursuer of the ball, ended up 8th on the all-time tackles list at Notre Dame
  • Captain on the field and a terrific student in the classroom
  • Question marks about his intelligence and off the field conduct enter the picture after the fake girlfriend controversy

Pass Rush:

  • Times up blitzes well and is very instinctive, disguises intentions well
  • Lacks the necessary acceleration to consistently shoot through holes before blockers can react as a blitzer
  • Undeveloped as a blitzer on the whole, lacks counter moves if he’s unable to come unblocked

Run Support:

  • Attacks gaps effectively and without hesitation
  • Leverage-wary linebacker who takes proper angles to ball carriers
  • Works laterally to flow over the top and fills holes, range doesn’t extend to the edge as a true sideline to sideline linebacker though
  • Has all the necessary power to take on blocks and can effectively meet lead blockers in the hole
  • Inconsistent ability to shed blocks with his hands, needs to win with anticipation to be a step ahead of blockers
  • Plagued by poor tackling technique, aim is often far too low which is brought about by his tendency to stop and feet and lunge at ball carriers instead of driving hips through contact
  • Wraps well as a tackler and can save missed tackles with strong arms


  • Plays with his head on a swivel in zone coverage which allows him to identify receivers quickly, consistently gets himself into great positions
  • Satisfactory ball skills in coverage, gets his hands to passes in one on one situations very well
  • Made the most of interception opportunities as a senior, ability to catch the ball with his hands is sufficient
  • Showed improvement in pass coverage yearly in college, aided by loss of weight


Before the girlfriend controversy struck, Te’o was widely considered a top ten talent.  Unfortunately, that was mostly cooked up by the media.  Emotional attachments aside, Te’o is a solid inside linebacker prospect who just doesn’t have the elite athleticism or consistency as a tackler to warrant such a high pick.  That’s not to say he doesn’t have first round value.  He’s a smart inside linebacker with a high football IQ and a noted leader for the Irish defense.  Teams will give Te’o their due diligence at the combine, and if the interviews go well they’ll believe he can be the anchor of their defense for years.  He will need to become a more reliable tackler first, but can that really be improved upon?  Time will tell.  Te’o played in a 3-4 for Bob Diaco and has the skills to translate to that same scheme or to the middle of a 4-3.  Either way, it’s unlikely he becomes a high impact linebacker who changes games in your favor at the next level and would be unwise to expect him to do so.  Te’o is simply not a top 10 or 15 talent in this draft and should go more in the 20-30 range.

Originally published at Manti Te’o Scouting Report