Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Not-So-Imaginary Pro Day

Manti Te'o had his Pro Day today (unlike his "girlfriend", this one was real). After a lackluster performance at the NFL Combine, his hopes were high that he could redeem himself today and solidify himself as a first round draft pick. He was especially hoping that he could erase the memories of both a poor 40-yard dash time as well as his abysmal performance in the biggest game of his life. I did not see the Pro Day, but from what I have gathered, he failed.

Te'o ran a slightly faster 40 time in today's workout, but not enough to warrant him being a first round pick. He ran a 4.82 at the Combine. While he improved his time at the pro day to a 4.71, that is still well under what you would like to see from your first round linebacker. Every linebacker drafted in the first round since 2010 has run below a 4.7 in this drill*. While the dash is by no means the standard benchmark of a great linebacker, it is one of the most heavily weighted drills that the scouts use to evaluate their talent. In today's NFL, where speed is at such a premium, I don't think you can afford to have a "slow" player as the anchor of your defense.

As if the stand-out from Notre Dame's combine performance wasn't poor enough, there's also the issue of his game tape. Most of the tape on Te'o is phenomenal. If you ignore his final game, I don't think that anyone would question whether or not Te'o is a sure-fire first round talent. However, you cannot ignore that game, as it was the biggest game of his life. It was against the closest thing that college football has to an NFL team (the Alabama Crimson Tide, coached by former NFL head coach Nick Saban). While the name Nick Saban makes any Miami Dolphins fan cringe, we have to acknowledge that he's run one phenomenal program down there at Alabama, and in the National Championship game, they made Te'o look silly. Chance Warmack (another first round talent) made Te'o look like a freshmen with the way he dominated him. Te'o certainly helped Warmack out too by consistently attacking the wrong shoulder, allowing himself to be driven quite easily away from the play.

All this leads me to believe, despite what all the prognosticators think (Mike Mayock, Todd McShay and Mel Kiper all have Te'o safely in the first round), that Te'o is not worthy of a first round selection. Any team who does so would be making a colossal error, along the lines of when the Denver Broncos selected Tim Tebow in the first round, all but destroying any chances he had of learning the game, developing his talents and fixing his flaws. I hope Miami isn't the team to take their chances on Te'o.

*Complete stats can be found at www.espn.com