Manti Te’o and the hoax he’s so closely associated with is going to be a hot topic of debate come the NFL Draft combine. Experts still aren’t sure how the hoax will effect his draft stock this April, but any hope that Te’o can be a first round pick seems to have gone out the window at this point. We’ve all heard what pundits and analysts have to say about Te’o's hoax but we’ve yet to hear from the voices that really matter when it comes to his future in the NFL.
NFL executives and scouts haven’t really been vocal about how they feel about Te’o. Part of that has to do with draft strategy but part of it also stems from most of the NFL still not knowing what to make of all this.
Really, Te’o's going to be viewed one of two ways by scouts and executives. On the one hand, he’ll be viewed as a con-man who deceived an entire nation for an entire season. On the other hand he’ll be viewed as a naive fool who was duped by some college kid thousands of miles away from him. If Te’o is viewed as the con-man, as dark as it sounds, that takes some serious brains to achieve on the level he achieved it. But if he’s viewed as the naive fool, that reflects poorly on his intellect and teams may not view him as smart enough to handle an NFL scheme.
Some executives have spoken out on the matter.
John Elway spoke about Te’o and called the situation ‘mind-boggling’, saying he still can’t understand the lack of knowledge Te’o had about a situation directly effecting his life.
“It’s a little bit mind-boggling to think what did happen, what he did know,” Broncos executive vice president John Elway said. “He’s going to get asked about it probably 32 times at the Combine. Everyone is going to ask him about it. It’s hard for us to understand — why he wouldn’t know?”
New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese said the verdict isn’t in on Te’o yet and that he needs more information first.
“We call that situation in our room ‘NMI.’ You know what that stands for?” Reese said on Tuesday. “Need more information. We don’t rush to judge anything. I don’t know the details, but there’s probably been worse things.”
Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said while the hoax may say a lot about how Te’o thinks, we have to remember we’re talking about a kid here and not a fully grown adult.
“The hardest part of the whole draft process is you’re talking about guys who did things between 18 and 22,” Roseman said. “When you look around this field, even the people who are very successful, you go back and look at some of the things that everyone did between 18 and 22, you kind of shake your head. I look at my kids and go, ‘Man.’ You worry about everyone doing that because your brain functions differently when you’re at that age.”
The fact of the matter is, Te’o didn’t kill anybody or fail a drug test or even get a ticket. He was involved in an embarrassing, 21st Century hoax that has blown up into a massive ordeal.
JaMarcus Russell was taken first overall, Charles Rogers was taken 2nd overall, Randy Moss and Percy Harvin had documented troubles before the draft and even train-wreck Todd Marinovich was a first round pick in 1991 despite his documented involvement with drugs.
Sure the hoax says a lot about who Te’o is and how savvy he is, but there have been plenty of draft prospects who have done far worse and ended up being selected quite high in the NFL Draft and not all of them have been total busts.