The biggest story of the week so far has been about how the inspirational story surrounding Manti Te’o and his battle to overcome the deaths of both his grandmother and girlfriend on the same day was a lie. Now that we are almost 24 hours into the story, and the main question circulating is how involved was Te’o, something else has been on my mind and it’s going to become insanely relevant as this story further develops.
Te’o was once viewed in mock drafts as a top 10 pick, but even before this hoax news broke, his stock was slipping. Mocks started projecting Te’o as low as 20th overall even before the National Championship game, and that was before we even saw him disappear in that game. Te’o's stock was no doubt dropping but it’s about to take Wile E. Coyote drop off the draft cliff.
There’s a couple of ways scouts are going to look at this hoax in relation to Te’o's draft stock. Some scouts have even said that they’ve already taken Te’o off their big boards — whether that’s true or not is besides the point as it’s clear people are wavering on Te’o. One angle to this is Te’o's character, and he wouldn’t be the first prospect ever to suffer from poor character.
If Te’o was involved in this con, teams will back off because no one wants to be associated with this mess. But even if he’s in on it, at the worst he drops to the third day of the draft and is taken in the late rounds. However, if Te’o was conned, his stock might be hurt even worse.
Linebacker is a position you need a guy with brains, a guy who can think on his feet and logically solve offensive schemes. If Te’o was indeed conned, that’s not necessarily something MENSA members brag about. If the internet got the best of you, what do you think will happen when Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Adrian Peterson come at you?
There’s really not a lot of ways Te’o can win in this situation, and the days of discussing Te’o in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft seem to be long gone.