- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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Draft experts continue to link former Notre Dame star Manti Te'o to the Chicago Bears, but the recent landscape change at the linebacker position due to the additions of D.J. Williams and James Anderson, and needs in other areas appear to make that unlikely.
That's not to say that Te'o to the Bears won't happen. He's certainly a first-round talent who probably improved his stock slightly at a recent pro day workout. But as one NFC personnel man said Friday morning, the 20th overall pick might be "a tad rich for Te'o."
Perhaps the Bears feel that way, too.
So if there's truly a level of interest in selecting the linebacker, the Bears could be pondering ways to move back some to land him. While the 20th pick might be too high to draft Te'o for some, several personnel evaluators consider him worthy of a pick closer to the bottom of the first round.
Speed seems to be one of the most pressing concerns about Te'o, who was a highly productive player in college who appeared to improve each season. Some scouts say Te'o's superior football instincts make up for any lack of speed. Others agree with that assessment, but there's still the question of whether those instincts can make up for the inevitable deterioration of speed as Te'o's career progresses.
Ultimately though, a player's game tape serves as his resume. Te'o's resume is as impressive as any of the team's other potential selections at linebacker; a group that could include prospects such as Kansas State's Arthur Brown, which ESPNChicago.com has confirmed will come to Halas Hall on a pre-draft visit, and Georgia's Alec Ogletree. Both appear at this point to be better options than the former Notre Dame star, who doesn't appear to fit the Bears' scheme, which requires more athletic players.
The Bears' acquisition of Williams and Anderson also muddles the draft picture somewhat. Although the duo signed one-year deals, Williams and Anderson are expected to start in 2013. If they play well, it's likely the Bears would look to extend them.
So any addition at linebacker through the draft might serve solely on special teams and as depth next season. After all, the Bears have nine linebackers under contract.
Meanwhile, at defensive tackle, the roster contains just three players under contract. So maybe that's where the Bears should spend their first-round pick. There's been at least one mock draft linking the Bears to North Carolina defensive tackle Sylvester Williams.
According to a source, the team's pre-draft visit list contains more offensive linemen than linebackers and defensive linemen at this point. So it's difficult to gauge where the Bears are leaning headed into the draft.
But as the end of the month quickly approaches, it's beginning to look less likely that Te'o is the Bears' first-round target.
Still, that's not to say that general manager Phil Emery won't pull a shocker and grab him.