(Photo : Creative Commons)
Manti Te'o hasn't been able to run away from media scrutiny and Monday could barely outrun his peers. The most popular player at the NFL Combine ran a disappointing 4.82 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Mike Mayock of the NFL Network speculated that a speed better than 4.7 would be "phenomenal", but anything over 4.8 would be a "concern." It remains to be seen who should be more concerned, Te'o or NFL GMs.
Te'o missed an important opportunity to dispel any doubts in his talent or mental conditioning in light of the revelation that his online romance was, in fact, an elaborate hoax played on him by a friend. Since the controversy erupted, he's had to continually answer questions from reporters and NFL executives in regards to the hoax and its effect on him.
Despite the firestorm and the slow times in the forty, the linebacker is expected to be selected in the late first round in the 2013 NFL draft, which starts on April 25.
Teo's time of 4.82 ranked 20th of the 26th linebackers who ran at Monday's combine. The fastest time of the day was a 4.47 ran by Missouri's Zaviar Gooden. In all, Te'o participated in 5 of the 7 physical drills, deciding not to take part in the 60-yard shuttle and the bench press. "Today was a long, long, long, long day," Te'o said. The day was long, but his jumping wasn't. His vertical jump was only 33 inches, more than 8 inches below Jamie Collin's of Southern Mississippi 41 1/2 inch best.
Despite his poor performance at the Combine, he gained respect from fans and the media by not blaming his slow times on his recent struggles. Te'o seemed confident that he would change the minds of critics during Notre Dame's pro day on March 26. "I can obviously do better," said Te'o. "That's what pro days are for."