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2013 NFL Draft: Manti Te’o Improved His 40 Time at Pro Day, Did Nothing to His Draft Stock

Manti Te'oMuch was made about Manti Te’o’s forty yard dash time at the NFL Combine in late February. His 4.82 time made national headlines that added to the trendy public bashing of the Notre Dame linebacker.  But that forty time wasn’t all that surprising to evaluators who watched him on film. His lack of great range and burst was apparent based on his play this season.

Now, after improving his forty time by, according to ESPN’s Todd McShay, nearly a tenth of a second, Te’o’s 4.71 official time (also ran a 4.75) has got people talking about the rejuvenation in his draft stock.

So while his perceived “speed” based on his running the forty has changed, his struggles this year versus Stanford and Alabama haven’t. And, unfortunately for Te’o, his draft grade hasn’t changed either.


At Optimum Scouting, we focus most of our attention as we evaluate players on their “round grade”. This grading ideal, similar to what many NFL teams use, allows us to maintain a broad idea of where each player will fit in the NFL and what his value is compared to other players at the position and in the draft overall. These “round grades” take multiple games of study along with discussion amongst the staff to finalize. They don’t necessarily change overnight without added film study or reviewing notes to gain a better perspective.

They certainly don’t get adjusted much thanks to Pro Days, especially when considering JUST the forty yard dash. And despite what many in the media perceive, NFL team’s grades don’t hinge on just one running of the forty yard dash, especially for an inside linebacker.

Manti Te’o has great football IQ, in the class of Patrick Willis and Luke Kuechly before him, and he’s able to adjust and redirect well enough to make plays in coverage and against the run because of it. But he lacks great range on film, struggles to adjust off of man-blocking guards, and doesn’t regain his balance well on the interior versus downhill blockers. He’ll likely need a 3-4 defense to have NFL success, and even then he’s no lock to be a 3-down player.

Add in his character concerns which have given NFL teams serious concerns , and it adds up to being a near-lock that he WON’T go in the 1st round. NFL scouts, as well as our own evaluations, will give him his 2013 “round grade” based on his play at Notre Dame and the character check-up process.

His forty time at the Combine didn’t push him out of the first round, and his Pro Day times didn’t vault him back into it. Based on my evaluations his round grade is closer to the 3rd round than the 1st. And it wouldn’t shock me if NFL teams agreed.


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