The Minnesota Vikings passed on Manti Te’o even though they had a need at linebacker and were the first team in 12 years to have three picks in the opening round of the National Football League draft.
So did 27 other teams on day one of the NFL draft.
Te’o, the Heisman Trophy runner-up as college football’s best player last season, was among the most noteworthy prospects to go undrafted during the first round, along with quarterbacks Geno Smith, Matt Barkley and Ryan Nassib, running back Eddie Lacey and cornerback Tyrann Mathieu.
Online betting website Bovada.lv put the over/under for Te’o to be selected at 25 1/2, as some draft analysts projected him to be taken by the Vikings at No. 25.
The Vikings opted for defense with their top two picks, taking University of Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd at No. 23 and Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes with the 25th pick. Minnesota then traded up to take University of Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson at No. 29.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said the team may consider making another trade on day two to get a linebacker.
“We still have some time to maybe find a guy,” Frazier told reporters last night, without being specific. “There are still a lot of linebackers on the board.”
As a senior, Te’o finished second to Johnny Manziel in the Heisman voting after spearheading a Notre Dame defense that allowed the fewest points of any team at college football’s top level. Te’o had a team-leading 103 tackles and seven interceptions as the Fighting Irish went 12-0 and earned the No. 1 national ranking and a spot in the national championship game.
Te’o received the Nagurski Award as college football’s best defensive player and the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker, yet began facing questions after Notre Dame was routed 42-14 by the University of Alabama in January’s Bowl Championship Series title game.
About a week later, it was revealed that Te’o had been caught in a hoax involving a fake online girlfriend and lied about it in media interviews during the lead-up to the national title game. Te’o said he was fooled into believing his fake girlfriend had died of leukemia in September and didn’t lie about the situation until December, when he became aware she didn’t actually exist.
Te’o said he wasn’t a part of the fabricated story and apologized for lying, yet had to answer questions from teams about the hoax and his ability to play middle linebacker in the NFL at the league’s scouting combine in February.
Te’o wasn’t among the 23 prospects who accepted invitations to attend the draft, 19 of whom were picked in the first round and received a hug and personalized jersey from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Te’o may find out what team he’ll play for today as the NFL draft continues with the second and third rounds.
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