It’s been quite a while since the Manti Te’o story exploded and when it comes down to what GMs think of his ability to succeed in the NFL, the really important thing about him, it seems the former Notre Dame linebacker is held in high enough regard to be a possible late first round draft pick, with the Minnesota Vikings opting to use on of their two selections on him.
Te’o was looked into thoroughly by the Vikings during the process leading up to the draft, in a way that doesn’t leave you doubting their interest in him. They spoke with him during the scouting combine; they invited him for a visit to their practice facility; they attended his pro day at Notre Dame and took him to dinner afterwards. The Vikings, in need of a middle linebacker, among other things, aren’t just making generic moves towards a possible prospect.
Some say it’s a waste to use a first round pick on him, suggesting that the talent level between him and the other middle linebackers lineup up to be taken in the second round isn’t that big, and not worth using a top pick on. The Vikings, with two first round picks (we remind you of that again), might be holding a card that allows them a little more freedom to make a little bit of a mistake, or at least take a player who’ll need a bit longer to develop.
The Vikings do have the option of using Erin Henderson in that position, although that’s not a solution everyone is comfortable with, and it’s certainly not a real upgrade for them. Te’o or not Te’o, the Vikings are also considering trading away one of the picks, letting people know there’s plenty of interest in the 23rd and 25th picks they currently hold, which eventually might be the smarter thing to do.