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Could Manti Te'o Fall To Ravens?


Manti Te'o was once the top NFL prospect in the country according to ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr.

But that was before the Notre Dame middle linebacker was run over by Alabama in the national championship.

And don't forget the whole "catfishing" drama that unfolded after the season, where it was revealed that Te'o was duped into falling for a girl that didn't exist based on an online relationship. After finding out the relationship was a hoax, Te'o did not come clean to the public about the truth until six weeks later.  

The poor showing in the national championship and the personal drama may impact Te'o's draft stock, potentially making him available to the Ravens with the 32nd pick in the first round.

How far Te'o falls depends on how he performs at next week's scouting combine in Indianapolis.

"The 40-time is the most important thing," Kiper said Wednesday on a national conference call. "How far will he drop, it depends on what he runs. We're saying 'drop,' but if he runs a great 40-time, then he gets right back into that mix of being in that top-10, 12 discussion."

In his latest mock draft, Kiper currently has Te'o as the No. 13 pick to the Tampa Bay Bucs, and has him ranked as the 12th best player on his big board.

The Heisman runner up and leader of the Irish defense finished the year with 113 tackles, seven interceptions and 1.5 sacks. If he runs a sub-par 40-yard dash, then he could potentially fall to the back of the first round and the Ravens could grab him as a high-value player.

The Ravens have a need at inside linebacker with Ray Lewis retiring, Dannell Ellerbe as a free agent and Jameel McClain coming off a season-ending neck injury. General Manager Ozzie Newsome said during the end-of-season press conference that improving the middle of the defense is at the top of the offseason priority list. 

"They have a hole at inside linebacker," Kiper said about the Ravens. "That's obviously somebody that they would think about."

Kiper currently has the Ravens taking LSU inside linebacker Kevin Minter with the No. 32 pick.

Discounting the off-the-field issues, the biggest concern with Te'o is his ability to adjust to the speed of the NFL and be an every down linebacker. That's what makes his 40-yard dash time at the combine so critical.

"Even though he had seven interceptions and he lost weight and increased his agility and his coverage skills this year, what he runs is going to determine whether he's an every-down linebacker," Kiper said. "That's going to be the most important thing for Manti, whether he goes 13 to Tampa, whether he drops into the 20s."

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