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Manti’ Te’o: KC Chiefs Future Bust


This Notre Dame linebacker is as good as gold, like the sparkly new helmets of the number one Fighting Irish for whom he doth toil. Now that we know that Notre Dame will vie with the Alabama Crimson Tide for the right to be called the 2012 NCAA Football Champion, we will all get a great look at the Super Manti’ Te’o.

I’ve seen Te’o play and he really is amazing but, the championship game should help make him a household name right before he goes on the market. So, if you’re wondering what kind of bust I was referring to in the title, that would be a hall of fame bust and I’m picking him to win the Heisman so a bust — or statue — may be coming sooner than you think.

I know it won’t be popular with many fans but, if the Chiefs are drafting somewhere between 1 and 8, which it still looks like they will be, then I’d prefer they moved up or down and all around if necessary to make sure they get perhaps the best defensive prospect to come out since… Todd Blackledge… see what I did there?

What I like most about this possibility is that drafting ILB Manti’ Te’o would fill the giant gaping hole that exists in the middle of the Chiefs defense and like the exponential-infusion-effect of Safety Eric Berry two years ago he should make everyone around him better the minute he steps on the practice field this coming off-season.

Notre Dame Defensive Coordinator Bob Diaco says of Te’o,

“He’s a unique blend of being able to be kind and good and courteous and warm and friendly when he’s not inside the gates or inside the stripes, and then when he’s in there he’s an absolute warrior….”

Manti’ Te’o is the kind of person and player the Chiefs need.

With LT Branden Albert hopefully expected to re-sign with the Chiefs, Eric Winston locked in for a few more seasons and Donald Stephenson looking strong enough to provide solid back-up at the tackle positions, the main concerns the Chiefs have are on the interior of the line.

I’ve made my position clear before that I’d prefer that the Chiefs take Albert and move him inside to LG, if, and that’s a big if, they could find a superior franchise left tackle to take his place. If the Chiefs could orchestrate that transition it would come down to making the Center position a position of strength because RG Jon Asamoah looks like he’s developing gradually.

The Chiefs had a good game offensively on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers but, there’s nothing in a singular performance that should be interpreted as a pattern of success. Just as Brady Quinn has shown us a strong outing… Matt Cassel has done the same for one or two games at a time for the past four years. Until we witness consistency — there is no contingency for the Chiefs not drafting a QB early. Since we’ve already witnessed Quinn’s inconsistency, it would take a Herculean effort on his part from here on out, and perhaps winning out, for the Chiefs to not draft a QB early.

The same goes for the Chiefs offensive line. The two rookies, Stephenson and Allen, looked like grizzled veterans on Sunday but, I’m not “expecting” to see that again this season and there’s nothing in past history that suggest we will.

So, it sounds as if I’m making a case for the Chiefs to draft a superior offensive lineman early on. A left tackle at that. Yes, I’d be thrilled if that could happened.

Luke Joeckel, LT, out of Texas A&M has had an outstanding year as a junior playing against arguably the best competition in the nation, in the SEC. Joeckel’s feet are very quick and no one seems to get by him. He switches off outstandingly well when the defensive line stunts. He has shut down every “elite” pass rusher he’s faced in college. His 6-6, 310 pound frame appears to be equally suited to block the run as the pass but, his strength is his leverage. His body positioning is consistently excellent and he rarely finds himself in the wrong stance.

The big question I have with Joekel has to do with his Heisman nominated quarterback Johnny Manziel. Manziel delivers the ball quickly and Joekel may not have to sustain his college blocks as long as he might need to in the NFL. Also, Manziel is elusive, to say the least, so his OL can rely upon his feet to keep him from being sacked. That’s not true for very many NFL quarterbacks and certainly not for the Chiefs at this point. Not unless they draft Geno Smith.

While I like Luke Joeckel (the best OL in the 2013 draft) a lot, I don’t see him as an elite of the elite LT. He might be elite in this draft but, compared to other top prospects like ILB Manti’ Te’o, CB Dee Milliner or QB Geno Smith considering the realitive value they would have to the Chiefs, Joeckel slightly pales.

Besides, the reality is that the Chiefs, should they re-sign Branden Albert, and they should, will be signing him to play the left tackle position and paying him like a left tackle and not a left guard. So, as much as I’d like to see the Chiefs make moves this off-season to create a superior OL, it’s not likely to happen. However, a new head coach and GM could change everything.

The selection of Luke Joeckel by the Chiefs would basically mean they solved their left guard questions because Joeckel would not be enough of an upgrade to distinguish a difference. Not in his rookie year anyway. Meaning, Joeckel would not be significantly better than Albert his first year and although Albert would be significantly better than Jeff Allen at left guard, the sum of all those changes wouldn’t be worth it, compared to adding other draft-able players at a different position.

Consequently, the Chiefs would be better served taking another “premiere” player at another position.

When I have had the opportunity to watch Notre Dame games and ILB Manti’ Te’o I have been highly, highly impressed by his presence. He stands out even when you’re not specifically watching for him. While he plays a different position… the feeling you get about Te’o is that he means the same thing to his team as Troy Polamalu has meant to the Pittsburgh Steelers: the buck stops with him.

Intelligent, intuitive, hard hitting, athletic, strong and fast, Te’o has the X-Factor.

Some will argue that an ILB should not be taken at the top of the draft. However, if you were to re-draft the players from Troy Polamalu’s draft class in 2003 you’d likely place him at the top and right next to: Terrell Suggs, Nnamdi Asomugha and Andre Johnson. You’d also be well advised to place him well above others from that draft like Carson Palmer, Terrance Newman, Jordan Gross, Kevin Williams, Marcus Trufant, Willis McGahee, Dallas Clark and Larry Johnson: all 1st round players who have been very, very good but, not necessarily players who define their position.

So, why wait until a re-draft to find out that Manti’ Te’o is going to someday be a bust… in the hall of fame. Of course there are no “fer-sur-thangs’ out there. We all know that. However, I have a feeling about Manti’ Te’o and if you spend some time watching him you might get the same feeling I do. Te’o is good at tracking the ball and dissecting the play. He’s almost always playing downhill forever moving forward. This point is especially important because many quality linebackers run side-to-side very well but, don’t turn their head and shoulders square to the runner before hitting them. Te’o does this instinctively often producing big hits consequently.

Manti’ Te’o has 6 interceptions this season. That’s a great year — for an NFL corner — and even better for a college cornerback. Te’o is an ILB. His 101 tackles on the season leads the Irish and it’s obvious he’s a big reason they are undefeated this season and leading all of college football in scoring defense.

Te’o has won the 2012 Bronko Nagurski Award for being the best defensive player in college football (Derrick Johnson won in 2004 and Glenn Dorsey in 2007) and the 2012 Dick Butkus award for being the best linebacker in college football (Derrick Thomas won in 1988 and Derrick Johnson in 2004).

With many Chiefs fans concerned about the Chiefs drafting a franchise QB early in the 2013 draft, fans should be informed that there is no one in this coming draft like there was in the last draft. Not at the top. When the Chiefs select early in the second round one of the following QBs should still be available: EJ Manuel (Florida State), Aaron Murray (Georgia), Zac Dysert (Miami- OH) and Landry Jones (Oklahoma). Some of them may be available in the 3rd round too.

With Te’o being included in the list of Heisman Trophy candidates and also playing in the BCS Championship game against Alabama, his stock should continue to rise from now until the off season. If the Irish do the riverdance on the Crimson Tide and Te’o plays well in college football’s biggest game his stock should continue to rise throughout the off-season as well, and he may end up being the top rated player in this draft.

Don’t think it can’t happen? There have been very few defensive players who are ever even nominated for the Heisman. When CB Charles Woodson won the Heisman in 1998 he ended up being drafted at number 4 mostly because of a guy named Peyton Manning and a couple of other infamous draftees: QB Ryan Leaf and presumably all-world DE Andre Wadsworth whose name you probably don’t remember and that is precisely the point.

Manti’ is a special breed of human being. In September his grandmother died and then a few days later his girl friend died of leukemia but, he never missed a practice or a game. Te’o said,

“To be able to operate, and to be able to try to continue with my daily routine, but knowing that I just lost a woman that I truly loved, that was the hardest thing,”
The task was made even harder knowing he couldn’t attend her funeral in Carson City, Calif.. He said Lennay had made him promise he wouldn’t miss a game, instead asking him to honor her with his play.

If Manti’ Te’o wins the big prize and plays at an MVP level in the BCS game, it may take the Chiefs achieving the first pick in the draft to have a chance to select him.

What a player like Manti’ Te’o could mean to the KC Chiefs is almost inconceivable considering recent events. If there’s a team that deserves Te’o and all he has to offer… it’s the Kansas City Chiefs.

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