Numbers Never Lie

The best Notre Dame linebacker in a quarter century has little shot of making it in the NFL. I have the measurables to prove it.

Manti Te'o has to gain a half-pound just to be average.

Its unfortunate, but true. 6'1" 241 isn't quite enough.

Te'o, who led all college football linebackers this decade with seven interceptions in 2012, might need to add weight if he wants to make it in the NFL. He can, however, jump far enough from a standing position to become a star at the next level, at least if 2013 Pro Bowl inside linebacker Jerod Mayo is your guide -- both players jumped 9-feet and five inches when tested in Indianapolis.

Te'o, however, doesn't run very fast over a 40-yard swath of FieldTurf, at least not in a straight line, and certainly not as fast as the world's best linebacker, Patrick Willis. Willis, all 6'1" 242 pounds of him (there's that pesky pound again), blazed those same 40 yards in 4.51 seconds compared to Te'o's 4.82.

But Willis, a six-time Pro Bowl selection in his six NFL seasons, pales in comparison to Te'o when attempting to navigate three cones placed evenly on the ground. He's likewise less impressive when performing something called a "20-yard shuttle." He was slower than Te'o in both drills, and is thus less likely to succeed in the future.

Because if Te'o, who recorded more than 100 tackles in three straight seasons at Notre Dame, has proved anything with his 2013 NFL Combine performance, its that past performance is not an accurate indicator of future success.

The good news for Te'o is that he's a full three pounds heavier than current Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher, who didn't get drafted when he finished at John Carroll in 1998. And Fletcher has had more than 15 calendar years to add weight!

Fletcher made more tackles than any NFL player from 2000 to 2009 but made just his fourth (consecutive) Pro Bowl at age 37 last season. Since Te'o weighs more than Fletcher, and is thus obviously better equipped to take on blockers at the professional level, Te'o could earn his first trip to Hawaii before he reaches 33-years-old, making him a much better prospect than Fletcher ever was.

Who wants to wait 11 years to play in Hawaii when you already live there?

Te'o also lied, something no great linebacker has ever done. (It's true, I watched the Super Bowl pre-game show.)

Also, Te'o is of Samoan decent. There hasn't been a Samoan Pro Bowler since Lofa Tatupu in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

Tatupu ran a 4.83 forty-yard dash over that same challenging course back in 2005, which makes him slower than Te'o -- not to mention lighter (238) and shorter (6'0"). It took him several months to make his first Pro Bowl.

Tatupu's successes were likely due to his innate 20-yard shuttle skill set, one that ranks as faster than both Te'o and Willis.

Tatupu jumps higher than both Chicago Bears linebacker and future Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher and Te'o -- who both leapt 33 inches off the ground to touch some (plastic?) vanes while wearing shorts. There was no football in the air, mind you, but there were some half-inch vanes over their heads.

Neither Te'o, nor Willis, nor Urlacher, is in as dire straights as 1996 combine participant Zach Thomas. Thomas could only jump 28.5 inches straight up, and that was when he was 22 years old.

Consider how much trouble he'd have elevating to that height now, for at age 39, Thomas has the wear and tear of seven Pro Bowls and the scars of earning a spot on the NFL's All-Decade Team (2000s) on his knees.

And finally there's the plight of Alabama linebacker DeMeco Ryans. Apparently the Crimson Tide has failed in its quest to produce NFL talent, as Ryans was able to navigate three strategically placed orange cones in just 7.19 seconds. That's slower than Te'o's comparatively blazing 7.13.

Ryans hasn't made the Pro Bowl since 2009 because of knee injuries (there's probably no way he can hit 7.19 through three little cones these days).

Now someone get Te'o and the rest of these guys some pads and let's see what happens.

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