Manti Te’O / Middle Linebacker / 2nd Round / Pick #38:
In the second round, Tom Telesco surprised us (yet again) by moving up to acquire Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te’O. There was all sorts of controversy surrounding Te’O after the infamous “catfish scandal”. However, Te’O took to the podium during the 2013 combine, and answered point-blank questions about the situation. It wasn’t easy for the young man, but he took it like a champ. Perhaps even more surprising, was that Telesco traded a fourth round pick away to get Te’O. The Chargers roster had more holes to fill than a gopher hill, and not all fans were happy about trading away valuable picks for a player with so many question marks. Naturally, there were high expectations for him coming into camp.
On the field, Manti Te’O certainly doesn’t lack effort, or enthusiasm. In fact, he sometimes can be TOO enthusiastic. He often overshoots the play, or misses the tackle completely. He is still a little bit undersized, so he has difficulty shedding blocks, and wrapping up his tackles. At times, it was clear that teams were running straight at him. Te’O actually did pretty decent in coverage. He wasn’t the greatest, and he wasn’t the worst. Te’O suffered (what we now know to be) a broken foot in training camp, and spent the first quarter of the season on the sideline in a walking boot. He did finally get on the field, but didn’t perform to expectations.
The Charger fanbase was actually pretty hard on Manti Te’O this season. Now that we realize that he was playing on a broken foot the whole time, some of those opinions have turned to feelings of sympathy. Te’O recently had surgery to fix his foot, and it is difficult not to have at least a little bit of respect for somebody who fought through an injury like this, and didn’t complain about it once. This injury clearly would have had an impact on his play, so he gets somewhat of a pass this season. It is still undetermined if he can play at the level expected of him, once the injury has healed properly. I’m going to go out on a limb, and say that he will be a much better player in 2014, and will probably come into camp a little more bulked up.