Before it became public knowledge that the story of Manti Te’o’s girlfriend was nothing but a hoax, the Notre Dame linebacker was expected to a high selection in the NFL Draft.
ESPN’s draft guru Mel Kiper had Te’o going eighth overall to the Buffalo Bills. Gil Brandt of NFL.com had him going 19th to the New York Giants.
Now, there are questions about how the scandal will affect the linebacker’s draft stock.
"I think some teams will say it isn't worth the problem," said Brandt, according to the Associated Press.
It may be hard to project where Te’o will land until he speaks on the matter. There were rumors that he agreed to do an interview on Thursday, but that was quickly dismissed. He did release a statement on Wednesday, claiming he had been the victim of an online hoax. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick reiterated Te’o’s stance at a press conference, saying the player had nothing to do with creating the existence of Lennay Kekua.
Even before Deadspin broke the story, Te’o’s draft stock had been falling. Brandt, who used to be a general manager for the Dallas Cowboys, said the linebacker’s performance in the National Championship Game was the beginning of Te’o falling in the draft.
"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.”
Te’o was one of the best players in college football in 2012. He helped Notre Dame become the top defense in the nation, recording seven interceptions and 113 tackles. The linebacker was one of the finalists to win the Heisman Trophy, which went to Johnny Manziel.
Several NFL executives told Steve Wyche of the NFL Network that the story about Te’o’s girlfriend would not be a determining factor of where he lands in the draft.
“It’s going to be more of what type of football player that he is,” said Wyche.