Feb 25, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te

Manti Te’o Draft Stock: NFL Teams Still Consider Former Notre Dame LB A First Round Pick

Former Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te’o did not impress scouts with his 40-yard dash time and he measured in the bottom third of middle linebacker prospects during most of the testing at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, but it is what happened behind closed doors that continues to help Te’o stay in the good graces of NFL talent evaluators.

Te’o has never been known for his impressive athleticism, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Te’o flopped during on-field drills at the combine.

His measurables and athleticism will never wow you, but it is his football IQ, awareness and his leadership ability that make Te’o one of the top inside linebacker prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft class.

At the combine, Te’o met with a number of NFL teams and he showed them during one-on-one interviews that he is still the same kind of person they had believed prior to the unfortunate catfishing incident. Te’o reportedly impressed most of the teams he met for interviews and it has kept his draft stock in the first-round range.

It makes perfect sense. There are too many teams in the second half of the first-round that need linebacker help — Pittsburgh, Denver, Atlanta and Baltimore to name a few — for Te’o to completely fall out of day one.

People will continue to knock Te’o leading up to the draft in April, but the reality is that the combine did not change his standing among the NFL teams. Expect Te’o to be one of the top 32 picks and the team that lands him will be very happy about the player they draft.

Tags: 2013 NFL Draft Football Manti Te'o Notre Dame Fighting Irish