STRENGTHS - Te'o has good bulk and natural strength for the position. He displays toughness when taking on blockers at the POA, and has the power needed to stack and shed in time to get involved in plays through his area. He is quick to read his keys and flow to the ball on run plays. In zone coverage he displays solid foot quicks and agility, and does a solid job of keeping plays in front of him. When able to square up he is a consistent tackler that brings his feet and uses proper leverage.
WEAKNESSES - Te'o is not an explosive athlete and lacks the speed to consistently make plays on the boundary or in man coverage. In pursuit he struggles to get through traffic and has to take wide angles which prevents him from making impact plays behind the LOS. He lacks the burst and aggressiveness to be an effective blitzer, must better use his hands against low blocks.
SUMMARY - Manti Te'o has received an inordinate amount of attention for his bizarre fake girlfriend drama, but its his play on the field that will certainly interest NFL teams more. While he finished second in on the Heisman Trophy ballot this year, he is not the dynamic playmaker he has been portrayed by some to be. While he demonstrates very good instincts against both the run and pass and is clearly an intelligent student of the game, his athletic limitations will limit his viability at the NFL level. He lacks the speed to cut off plays on the boundary and will struggle to stay with TEs and receivers downfield in man coverage. While he's an instinctual player in the box and consistently finishes with strong tackling technique, he rarely makes impact plays behind the LOS to change games. Overall, while he lacks premier physical skills he is a naturally instinctive player with great intangibles who will be a solid, workmanlike starter in the NFL.I believe he is best suited to play inside linebacker in a 34 scheme, but could also be a solid starting middle linebacker in a 43 defense.