2013 NFL Draft: Predicting the Draft’s Four Biggest Busts

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Manti Te’o, LB, San Diego Chargers

Apr 27, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers second round draft pick Manti Te’o answers questions at his press conference. Mandatory Credit-Christopher Hanewinkel, USA Today Sports.

Yes, Manti Te’o was projected by many as a top five pick before the BCS Championship. However, that doesn’t make him a bona fide star.

The days in between the BCS Championship and the draft brought some interesting times for Te’o, and the result was Te’o’s stock plummeting. Te’o still has talent and can put up respectable numbers, but his name is now linked to an unfortunate fake girlfriend scandal that brings lots of unnecessary attention.

Te’o intercepted seven passes in 2012, but that’s not going to happen in the NFL. Te’o has good instincts, but he’s not fast at all. Te’o ran a below-average 4.71 40-yard dash, so he possesses below-average speed. In the NFL, where even the biggest players are fast, that’s not going to be good.

The 225-pound middle linebacker only produced 55 solo tackles in 2012, as a lot of his tackles were assisted. While he intercepted seven passes in 2012, he also intercepted only seven passes over his four-year career. It’s going to be difficult for Te’o, who isn’t fast or extremely strong (he managed 21 reps on the 225-pound bench press), to chase down and take down big running backs. Players such as Darren McFadden and Jamaal Charles, guys who can break tackles but can also run, will give Te’o a hard time.

Te’o will have the spotlight on him all season, and he’s going to have lots of trouble in the NFL. Te’o isn’t big enough to deliver a hard hit, and he’s not fast enough to handle a slippery, speedy back. Te’o will intercept some passes and register some tackles, but he’s not going to be the next Junior Seau.

And unless he exceeds expectations and proves he can handle the elite competition, Te’o won’t be the next long-term starter in San Diego.