NFL

Brandt: Te'o could drop in NFL Draft

Peter Schrager breaks down the Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax story.
Peter Schrager breaks down the Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax story.
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NFL draft consultant Gil Brandt believes the uncertainty surrounding Manti Te'o could affect when he is selected in April by a team.

Brandt called the story that Notre Dame's All-American linebacker was involved in a hoax ''something I have never witnessed'' in his half-century in pro football.

''I think some teams will say it isn't worth the problem'' to draft Te'o, said Brandt, who has the linebacker rated 19th overall in the first round.

The former Dallas Cowboys general manager added Thursday that Te'o's stock had plummeted after a poor performance in the BCS championship game. Now, Te'o could fall further.

''I don't think anybody considered him to be a top-five pick before all this happened,'' Brandt said. ''In that game against Alabama, this was like a guy who was the best shooter in the world in basketball and here comes a game and he can't even hit the backboard. His play in that game was absolutely horrible. He missed on run blitzes; guys ran over him ...''

Brandt also noted how the inside linebacker position doesn't carry as much importance in the NFL as it once did. In the last 10 years, only four inside linebackers were taken in the first round, although one of them was perennial All-Pro Patrick Willis of San Francisco.

''I think it would be different if it was a quarterback who would change the game,'' he said. ''But linebackers are a piece to the puzzle; they don't solve the puzzle. Other than Ray Lewis, I don't know if any linebacker you say, `We've have got to have this guy.'

''(Inside) Linebackers are not as important as they used to be. We're down to one or two first-round linebackers now.''

Brandt wondered how Te'o could be so effective during the season, including seven interceptions - ''unheard of, like hitting .450 in baseball'' - and then so unproductive in the championship game.

''Between now and 97 days from now when the draft comes, there'll be a lot of people investigating just what took place,'' he said.

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