Once all the storm clouds blow over, it turns out Manti Te’o is a pretty good linebacker, who probably would have been picked in the first round if it wasn’t for fear of some personal issues. The San Diego Chargers used their second round pick on him and are quite happy with what he’s showing early on, already thinking about turning him into an every-down kind of linebacker.
Te’o, coming into the NFL out of Notre Dame, looked like the most impressive defensive player in the nation last year, if only for his leadership and his clutch skills all through the year before he got steamrolled by Alabama, along with the rest of his team, during the national championship game. Then came the girlfriend story, and it turned him from a potential top 10 pick to someone who was lucky he didn’t fall further down the pecking order.
But the Chargers are pleased so far from what they’re seeing from Te’o, albeit it is just a rookie minicamp, still not showing his ability against NFL veterans and the best the Chargers offense has to offer.
Our plan is for him to play three downs, and when we scouted him, we believed that’s what he’d be. But he’ll have to earn that, obviously. We’re going to play the best guys, and if he’s the best guy on all three downs, he’ll be in there.
The Chargers, playing in a 3-4 defense, envision Te’o playing in the “Mike” LB position, next to Donald Butler who has a guaranteed spot in the front seven. Jonas Mouton is the primary competition at the spot as of this point, but Mouton has hardly gotten any playing time during his first couple of seasons in the NFL, and Te’o looks like the favorite to get that starting spot.