New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese faces the task of finding someone to play middle linebacker this offseason, and could look to the NFL Draft to do so. The top linebacker in this year's class is Heisman runner-up Manti Te'o, who helped lead a fierce Notre Dame defense to a National Championship game appearance.
Most experts believed he would be a top-10 pick, but that was before Te'o's personal life became a hot topic of controversy. With the question marks surrounding his character, there is a greater chance of teams passing on Te'o, which could allow him to slip to the Giants with the 19th pick. If that turns out to be the case, should the Giants select him? Would you want him on your team?
Manti Te'o is the centerpiece for what has become one of the most outlandish sports-related stories in recent history. Te'o had received the sympathy of college football fans everywhere after the passing of his grandmother became public during the season, only to be followed by news that his girlfriend had died just six hours later after a battle with leukemia. Now reports are surfacing that Te'o's girlfriend, which he met online, never existed to begin with.
Some are blaming Te'o, claiming he devised the whole story for publicity and perhaps votes for a Heisman campaign. Others believe he is an innocent victim of an elaborate joke staged by an internet prankster. No one knows for certain what the truth is, but one thing is for sure, there are some major question marks surrounding the character of Manti Te'o whether he deserves it or not.
T'eo possesses the ability and skill set the Giants could use to help solve their linebacker issues. Before the breaking news, many experts projected the Giants would select him with the 19th overall pick in their mock drafts, but the chances of him sliding past 18 other teams seemed unlikely. Now the odds are pretty good that he will be there. CBS Sports' Dan Brugler is one of many who are confident Te'o will make an excellent pro.
"Te’o is an intense competitor and covers a lot of ground with his rangy, active playing style and lateral agility to cover both sidelines. He trusts his eyes and attacks the action quickly, showing a high football IQ to play smart, assignment football. Te'o needs to tighten his angles in space and get stronger at the point of attack to consistently finish once he gets his hands on the ballcarrier. He is a smooth, thickly-built athlete and his ability to quickly diagnose the play is why he projects as a starter at the next level."
Despite whatever character issues may surround Te'o, there is no denying his ability and leadership on the field. After a disappointing season for the Giants' linebackers, there is no question the team could utilize a young player of his caliber. The Giants starting middle linebacker last season, Chase Blackburn, is a free agent and may not return to the team next season. Second-string linebacker, Mark Herlzich, proved he needed more game-experience before taking on a larger role. Keith Rivers can't seem to stay healthy, while Michael Boley saw his playing time diminish.
Scouts believe Te'o's skill-set is best suited for a cover two style defense, which typically calls for a middle linebacker with strong pass defending ability. Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell is known for utilizing the "Tampa 2" variation of the cover two defense, making Te'o an even likelier fit for big blue.
So the question that begs to be answered…Does the potential of Te'o out-weigh the risk? Jerry Reese has a history of waiting till the middle of the draft to pick linebackers. Might this year be an exception? As more news surrounding this obscure story becomes public, it will be easier for NFL general managers, including Jerry Reese, to determine whether or not it is worth it to make Te'o their selection.
Also…Chase Blackburn, Football, Jerry Reese, Keith Rivers, Manti Te'o, Michael Boley, New York, New York Giants, NFL