With football withdrawals kicking in, I started watching tape of a couple draft prospects to ease my football addition and I found a player that caught my eye. Everyone knows his name and everyone has their own opinion on him. All I know is that the tape doesn’t lie and that production is production.
That’s why when I watch the tape on Te’o, I’m impressed. There’s no other way around
it. Game after game and play after play, I could see how Te’o improved over the past two years and how much he has improved his overall game.
Strengths: Te’o is one the most instinctive linebackers in this draft and a very solid tackler at that. He reads the quarterback well and has very solid hands for a linebacker. One of Te’o's underrated qualities is that he is very versatile. He can play any of the linebacker positions in a 4-3 defense and is a solid 3-4 middle linebacker.
Weaknesses: The two biggest weaknesses that Te’o has are his speed and strength. Alabama exploited that in the BCS game, but to be fair, Alabama exploited everyone on the Notre Dame defense. After that, I question Te’o's ability to handle stress because of his “catfish” and fake girlfriend situation.
However, in the BCS Bowl, everyone saw that he still has a long way to go in terms of strength and beating offensive linemen. That being said, there are many analysts and sports writers who said the very same thing about two very prominent linebackers, Brian Urlacher and Ray Lewis. As draft prospects, Lewis and Urlacher both had problems beating defenders and shedding blocks. That didn’t stop either of them from becoming future first ballot hall of a famers.
My biggest worry and the biggest reason that Manti Te’o is the NFL’s biggest boom or bust player is his ability to handle stress. When Te’o found about his fake girlfriend the night before the BCS game and ever since the story leaked out, Te’o has struggled and regressed as a player. Te’o was very composed at the combine answering questions but his combine performance left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth–which wasn’t a good thing considering that everyone was still trying to forget about his BCS performance.
When Te’o blamed the stress of everything that has happened since he was “catfished,” I started to worry for the kid. Teams and players will notice that stress and will try to attack it. If the stress of a fake girlfriend can get to Te’o, I can only imagine what the stress of being an NFL linebacker will do. Until Te’o can control the “catfish” story, and he will only be able to do that through his play, I fear the story will always control him.
Te’o was once a top five prospect because of his talents and production at Notre Dame. Now, it’s looking like each team will get a shot at drafting him. That’s why Te’o is the biggest boom or bust player in the NFL draft. A team can draft a solid playmaking linebacker for years to come or a bust that could never handle stress.
I give you the NFL’s biggest boom or bust player in the NFL. Buyer beware.
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