Manti Te’o used to be a popular projection for the Ravens to draft at pick No. 32 this year.
But that is less and less the case in recent mock drafts. And now ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper says there’s “no way” the Notre Dame inside linebacker falls to the Ravens.
“I thought Te’o could possibly be there,” Kiper said on a conference call Wednesday. “I wanted to get him to 32, but there’s no way.
“You have too many teams that could take Manti Te’o. You have the Giants at 19, Bears at 20, Vikings at both 23 and 25. So I don’t think Te’o is going to be there, unfortunately, for the Ravens.”
Kiper believes the Bears, who parted ways with franchise leading inside linebacker Brian Urlacher, will select Te’o at pick No. 20.
The Ravens are also looking for a player to step into the void left by an iconic linebacker,
“I think you’re looking at Kevin Minter from LSU, but I have him going 25 to Minnesota,” Kiper said. “But if [the Vikings] passed on him, and they could, he would be a nice pick at 32. He had a great year for the Bayou Bengals. If he’s gone, there’s no other middle linebacker to take at that point because [Georga’s Alec] Ogletree will probably be gone by then.”
Minter is currently a hot mock draft pick for the Ravens at 32.
After the infamous hoax and a slow 40-yard dash at the combine that elicited a less than impressed look from Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh, Te’o’s draft stock plummeted among pundits, who said he wasn’t fast enough to be a three-down linebacker.
But Te’o ran a tenth of a second faster (4.71 seconds) at his pro day, and has seen draft stock arrows reverse since the combine, when some in the media said he wasn’t worth a first-round pick.
With no inside linebacker options, Kiper sees the Ravens addressing the safety position with pick No. 32. He projects Florida’s Matt Elam in his latest mock draft, and says Florida International’s Jonathan Cyprien is also an option.