COMMENTARY | With the Chicago Bears deciding not to re-sign Brian Urlacher and Nick Roach departing, linebacker has suddenly become a glaring need. The Bears went out and signed free agent D.J. Williams on the cheap late last week, but there are still questions as to who will be the starter at middle linebacker.
One of the names being floated is Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o. This would be a mistake.
I am not concerned about the "catfishing" fiasco that hurt his public reputation. I am worried about his status as a top-shelf NFL prospect.
In the national championship, we saw Te'o face an offensive line that is as close as you can get to pro talent in a college game. Alabama made Te'o a non-factor. On the occasions he did get free to make a play, he took bad tackling angles. Frankly, he looked lost out there. The Alabama Crimson Tide repeatedly ran straight into the teeth of Notre Dame's defense, and Te'o did nothing to stop them.
One game is not representative of a college career. I will admit that he had great games against Michigan State and Oklahoma. However, Michigan State and Oklahoma are not Alabama. In order to prove you are the best, you have to perform against the best.
I didn't expect Notre Dame to beat Alabama, but I did expect the Fighting Irish to put up a fight. Te'o was the best player for Notre Dame last season and disappeared during its biggest game. What are we supposed to make of that?
I would be satisfied if Chicago went out and got Te'o in the second round. Wait, what is that? The Bears do not have a second-round pick in the 2013 draft? There goes that idea. Te'o will be gone by the middle of the second round at the latest.
If Phil Emery feels he has to get his middle linebacker of the future, the link I provided above gives a great solution in the form of Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree. Ogletree consistently performed at a high level in the best conference in college football.
In short, Te'o is a good football player, not a great one. I wouldn't use my first-round pick on him. The Bears still need offensive linemen and this draft has a lot of good ones. The draft even has a better option available at middle linebacker than Te'o.
Pass on him, Phil.
Tyler Emken is a journalist and sports enthusiast operating out of central Illinois.
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