- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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Manti Te'o ran a reported 4.71 in the 40-yard dash and benched 21 reps at the Notre Dame pro day on Tuesday.
So what does that mean? ESPN football analysts believe Te'o's improvement from a 4.82 40 at the NFL scouting combine means he will go as early as Pittsburgh at 17.
As you know, the Giants can use a star linebacker, and they pick at 19. But can Te'o be that linebacker? Here's what some of ESPN's football minds are saying after Te'o's 4.71 run:
TODD MCSHAY: "(Te'o projected to be a 4-3 linebacker) is why there was a little bit more importance on this 40 than on most 40-yard dashes that you get. Because if he is not great taking on blocks and he can't fit certain schemes because of it, then he has got to have enough speed and you got to feel comfortable in scouting him that the time matches up with what you see on tape, which is a player that plays pretty quick and diagnoses on the run and can get to the sideline, each sideline, when he is protected and when he is making the proper reads."
MEL KIPER: "The teams we know need inside linebackers start at Cincinnati (at 21), Pittsburgh at 17, Giants, Chicago in that mix, certainly the Vikings and then the Ravens. I slot him for the Giants at 19 ... Bottom line with Manti Te'o is regardless of where he goes, you have to believe that he is your middle linebacker for a long time ... He is all football, all the time and that is what you want your middle linebacker to be. He is your defined leader, that is the bottom line with Manti Te'o.
"I asked the NFL teams ... the ones that I spoke to said his interviews were off the charts. On a scale of one-to-10, they were a 15. So whatever Manti Te'o said in those interviews was the right thing that showed those teams he can be your consummate leader moving forward and that is why right now, he is an established first-round pick after running a 4.71."
TEDY BRUSCHI: "The game film is there. I think it is first-round tape, what he does, the way he has his diagnosis skills, his instincts, the way he makes plays, in pass coverage, the way he reads pattern combinations and is able to make those plays on the ball, seven interceptions. Today with the 4.71, all that is really is justification because this is a first-round talent. The tape says this guy plays at a first-round level."
Analysis: While I do think Te'o's new time helps his stock, the Giants may already believe they addressed linebacker with the signings of Dan Connor and Keith Rivers to go with Jacquian Williams, Mark Herzlich and Spencer Paysinger, They still have Mathias Kiwanuka but he likely could move back to defensive end full time. And the Giants still could sign a cheap veteran as well.
I still think the Giants might be better off drafting a pass rusher, offensive lineman or cornerback at 19, especially considering how the Giants do not value linebackers enough to take them in the first round (the Giants haven't taken a linebacker with a first-round pick since Carl Banks in 1984). However, if an impact linebacker is there for them at 19, it certainly warrants the Giants' attention if that linebacker is their best player available. I'm just not sure if Te'o is that impact linebacker for the Giants.
Question: Now that Te'o has posted a faster time, do you think the Giants should take
him at 19?