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April 26, 2013

Te'o tumbles out of first round

The one thing former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o can say about the last five months of his life is that they've been consistent.

From a second-place finish in the Heisman Trophy balloting in December, to a four-touchdown loss in the national championship game, to a bizarre tale of lies and deception in his personal life, to Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall in New York City for the first round of the NFL draft, nothing has worked out quite right for the highly-decorated inside linebacker.

Te'o did not become the first Irish linebacker to be selected in the first round since Bob Crable in 1982 as 32 picks came and went with several likely suitors turning in another direction.

The New York Giants, owners of the 19th overall pick, were said to be the first ones on the board to have a real interest in Te'o. But they chose Syracuse offensive tackle Justin Pugh instead.

At No. 20, the Chicago Bears had an interest/need in both Te'o and Irish tight end Tyler Eifert. They went with Oregon offensive guard Tyler Long.

After Eifert went to the Cincinnati Bengals with the 21st pick, the Minnesota Vikings provided Te'o with the greatest hope with the Nos. 23 and 25 choices. The Vikings - with four former Irish players (John Sullivan, Harrison Smith, Kyle Rudolph and Robert Blanton) on the roster - chose Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd at No. 23 and Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes at No. 25.

Even when the Vikings traded up with the New England Patriots to the No. 29 spot, they selected Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. At No. 30, the St. Louis Rams went with Georgia inside linebacker Alec Ogletree, who was suspended during his college days for theft and a failed drug test, and added a DUI to his scorecard in mid-February.

The Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens were not expected to allow Te'o to get past them with the 32nd and final pick of the first round following the retirement of middle linebacker Ray Lewis. But the John Harbaugh-coached squad went with Florida safety Matt Elam.

Most of the teams with linebacker needs do not sit atop the selection order of the second round, although the Bengals with the fifth pick, the New York Jets with the seventh and the Buffalo Bills with the ninth and 14th are likely the most interested.

Clouding Te'o's early second-round prospects are several talented players still on the board, including West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, Alabama running back Eddie Lacy, Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassab, USC quarterback Mart Barkley and Stanford tight end Zach Ertz.


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