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Manti Te'o may not be a smart pick in NFL Draft

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,NFL,College,John Keim

Here's what we know about Manti Te'o off the field: He was duped by a supposed friend when it came to an online relationship. Then he lied about his girlfriend to his family and the world.

But when it comes to the NFL Draft, how much will that bit of knowledge hurt him? Because in the end what scouts want to know more of is how he will play on the field.

As the scouting combine begins Thursday in Indianapolis, one of the more talked-about players will be the Notre Dame linebacker, a star defender until he became a national punch line and poster child for the term catfishing.

Before the world knew that his online relationship was with a fake person, Te'o was viewed as someone with solid intangibles. Considering he plays middle linebacker, his leadership qualities will be important in the NFL. Look at guys like Ray Lewis and London Fletcher.

And that's where his stock has taken a hit.

"He's lost all that," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said on a conference call.

Te'o knows what he must do but hopes his draft standing is based on ability, not naivete mixed with lies.

"I don't understand how it takes away from what I did on the field," Te'o told USA Today. "As far as my stock dropping or rising, that's not up to me. The only thing I have to do is just do well, run fast, just be myself, be quick."

Ultimately he's right. That doesn't mean some teams won't be split.

"There are two schools of thought," Mayock said. "One is most of us have made mistakes at age 21, and the kid's naive, and it's embarrassing. But it shouldn't really hurt the kid because it's not like one of those major things where you say we can't have him on our team. Some other teams are going to look at him and say he lied to his father. He had a chance when he found out about what really happened, he had a chance to tell the nation, and he lied to the nation. And do you want a liar in your locker room?"

- John Keim

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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