San Diego didn't worry about linebacker Manti Te'o's shortcomings or the weird controversy that became what he is best known for.
The Chargers traded up to the 38th overall pick. And then they made one of the most intriguing picks of the draft, taking the Notre Dame linebacker.
When former Chargers safety and longtime television announcer Jim Hill announced the pick, Radio City Music Hall got loud with a mix of disbelieving yells and what seemed to be boos.
With the pick, the Chargers are banking on Te'o's college production carrying over to the pros.
Te'o won seven national awards and was second in the Heisman Trophy race last year. No defensive player has ever taken home that kind of hardware in one college football season. But when the new year started, the story of Te'o took a crazy turn.
First, he was manhandled by Alabama in the BCS Championship Game. He looked slow and unable to disengage from the Tide's enormous blockers. That allowed analysts to really study his tape and pick apart some clear weaknesses. Then came the bombshell that Te'o will always be known for, a Deadspin story that revealed the girlfriend Te'o said died during the season never existed. That set off jokes that continued through Te'o being drafted. A poor combine with a slow 40-yard dash time didn't help matters.
The Chargers don't care about any of that. They're hoping that the locker room accepts Te'o, who was well known for his leadership and production on a Notre Dame team that went 12-0 in the regular season last season, and they get the same guy who was a tackling machine in college for the Irish.
ESPN analyst Mel Kiper is high on Te'o, and he made the inevitable comparison to longtime Chargers linebacker Junior Seau.
"Manti Te'o can have that similar impact, I believe," Kiper said on the broadcast.
Te'o has a lot to live up to. But after what he's been through the past few months, getting a new start on a team that coveted him might not be the worst thing.
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