Manti Te’o may be off the Detroit Lions board for good and rightfully so. News is still being gathered on Te’o’s involvement in the hoax of his girlfriend (who never existed) and her death. Whether Te’o is a victim of a sick joke, or just a sick person, the Lions can’t afford the negative press after last seasons tumultuous off-season. To be fair to the readers, I was never on board for the Lions drafting Te’o with the fifth pick anyway. I feel like a team could get great value from picking Te’o in the range of 15-20 in the first round. You just can’t take a play in the top 10 because he’s a good leader on and off the field, much less the top five.
With Te’o’s leadership being one of the most enticing qualities about him, his value to a team has drastically dropped, with one scout even saying that he was going to remove Te’o from his board entirely. Te’o has average size for an inside linebacker at 6’2″ and 255 pounds with average speed and great intangibles. With many questioning the Lions leadership in the locker room, the last thing the Lions can afford to do is draw more negative attention to the team and to the front office who is already being questioned after a 4-12 season.
It’s still a long way to April when the NFL draft takes place. Maybe this will blow over for Te’o, maybe he’s innocent, or maybe he falls from grace and into the second round, or even the third round. If Te’o is sitting on the board that late in the draft would the Lions take a chance on Te’o? Would you?
I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to the Lions trading back into the end of the second round for Te’o if free agents DeAndre Levy and Justin Durant part from the team. If the linebacking corps is in tact by the time the draft roles around however, I avoid Te’o and look to improve the team in other areas, particularly the secondary.