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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o

04.09.13 at 7:08 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2013 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

MANTI TE’O

Position: Linebacker

School: Notre Dame

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 241 pounds

Achievements: 2012 Maxwell Award (nation’s most outstanding player), 2012 Walter Camp Award (player of the year), 2012 Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year), 2012 Lombardi Award (best lineman), 2012 Nagurski Award (best defensive player), 2012 Lott IMPACT Award (best defensive player who made a positive off-field impact), 2012 Butkus Award (top linebacker), 2012 All-America first team (AP, Walter Camp), 2011 All-America second team (AP, Walter Camp), Academic All-America second team

What he brings: Te’o likely could have gone in the first round of last year’s draft, but he elected instead to return to Notre Dame for his senior year. For the most part, his play in 2012 cemented his reputation as a powerful, smart defender. He’s proven his ability to play against both the run and the pass, and his play-reading skills improved from his junior to his senior year, as did the fluidity of his coverage. Te’o isn’t blindingly fast, but his agility and his anticipation generally compensate for any lack of speed.

A fundamentally sound, consistent tackler, Te’o only had one real down moment in his senior year, and that came in the national championship against Alabama. Te’o fell short of expectations, failing to challenge Alabama’s offense much as the Irish lost a lopsided 42-14 game. Scouts still rate him very highly, but his last performance at Notre Dame did raise some concerns he’ll have to overcome. In the middle of last season he was all but a lock to be drafted early in the first round, but his stock continued to fall at the combine, where he disappointed with a 4.82-second 40-yard time. Though he improved on that time at his pro day, he might now be more likely to become a late first-round pick or an early second-rounder.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1 or 2

Notes: It may be a while before the public can think of Te’o without remembering the bizarre “girlfriend hoax” that dominated headlines early in 2013. Any team with an interest in Te’o will have the chance to discuss the matter with him in private, and it may be that his performance against Alabama will have more of an impact on his draft position than the off-field controversy. Before the hoax — and before it was revealed that Te’o had lied to reporters after finding out his girlfriend wasn’t a real person — Te’o was widely seen as an example of integrity: He’s an Eagle Scout, he spends time volunteering and he was a co-captain for the Irish.

Related articles: Yahoo! Sports: Manti Te’o runs in the 4.7s at his pro day, but questions still remain

Pro Football Talk: Report: Manti Te’o won’t be in New York for draft

Deadspin: Manti Te’o’s Dead Girlfriend, the Most Heartbreaking And Inspirational Story of the College Football Season, Is a Hoax

Video: Here’s a look at Te’o in action vs. Miami in 2012.

Read More: 2013 NFL draft, 2013 Potential Patriots, Manti Te'o,
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