According to ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o could solidify himself as being a first-round pick in this year’s draft with a solid 40-yard-dash time at the NFL Combine.
“I think how far he will drop depends upon what he runs,” said Kiper, via BuffaloBills.com. ”If he runs a great 40 time then he’s back in that top 10 to 12 discussion. I have him right now at 13 to Tampa Bay. The 40 time is the most important thing. Teams have said to me on numerous occasions it’s what he runs.”
Kiper is higher on Te’o than some of the other draft experts, but he’s probably right that displaying a decent amount of speed could be enough to prop up his draft stock.
“Even though he had seven interceptions and he lost weight and increased his agility and coverage skills this year, what he runs is going to determine if he’s an every down linebacker,” added Kiper. “Whether he goes 13 to Tampa Bay or drops to the 20’s. Keep in mind Baltimore they have Ray Lewis retiring and have a hole at ILB. Plenty of other teams in the first will look at Te’o. I’ve got him mid-first round right now.”
We have Te’o going to the Bengals in the first-round of our 2013 NFL Mock Draft.