By now, we are all familiar with the very public debacle that took place between Manti Te'o and his fictional girlfriend Lennay Kekua. When the story broke, the public perception was that Te'o was complicit in a hoax in order to garner media attention. As the facts of the story emerged over the coming days, it appeared very plausible that Te'o was actually the victim, not the perpetrator. However, for Te'o, the most important aspect of this story will be how it affects his 2013 NFL Draft status.
Before this story came to fruition, Te'o was slated as first-round draft pick. It's debatable how much of his draft stock was based upon talent and how much was due to his notoriety, but his character and leadership qualities were one of his most defining characteristics. New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese does not know if this specific media firestorm will have an impact on that notion.
"Well, we don’t know yet, because we haven't sat down and talked to him at all yet," Giants general manager Jerry Reese said. "And again, it’s still early, most people don’t know the details. I know I don’t know all the details, and so it’s hard to say right now."
On the field, Manti Te'o has proven to be a fairly versatile linebacker. He has the size and durability to hold up in the middle of any defensive scheme. He's shown the ability to make plays in pass coverage and has quality intangibles. It remains to be seen how his game translates to the NFL. There are questions about his speed and overall athleticism, which stem from is deplorable performance against Alabama in the BCS National Championship game two weeks ago.
Regardless of Te'o's disastrous showing in Miami and embarrassing relationship issues, most mock drafts still have him being taken in the first round. However, for Reese, it's still way to early to tell how his draft stock will fluctuate between now and April. Part of determining how Te'o's recent girlfriend hoax will effect his draft status will be how he interviews on the topic.
"It’s still early in the process," Reese said. "Everybody will interview, have interviews. We interview most all the players, and so we’ll interview him, just like we interview everybody else. If he’s in the right spot, and we like him well enough, any of these guys could be a possibility, including him. He’s in the mix with everybody else, but there's a lot of work to do before April. We’ll get all the information that we can gather on these players and we’ll see how that goes. But right now it’s still too early to tell which direction we’ll go (in the draft). But like always, with us, we pick the best player that’s on the board at the time."
Obviously, Jerry Reese is not going to publicize his opinion on the Te'o story, nor will he say how it has effected his draft stock at this point. The overall consensus around the league is that as long Te'o talks openly and honestly about the story, it will not change where he is selected in April. However, it makes no sense for Reese to tip his hand either way this early in the process.
Also…Football, Jerry Reese, Miami, New York, New York Giants, NFL, NFL Draft