Manti Te'o - John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
NFL Draft analysts have offered a wide range of opinions on how the girlfriend hoax story might impact the draft stock on Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o.
When it comes to Manti Te'o and his 2013 NFL Draft stock, everyone has an opinion. Since the former Notre Dame linebacker is undeniably a person of interest when it comes to what the New York Giants will do with the 19th overall selection in the April draft, it is a topic of special significance to Giants' fans.
Draft analysts Big Blue View was able to touch base with don't seem to think, at least initially, that Te'o's status will be affected all that much.
"From what we know at this point as a group this will not affect what grades the teams have on Te'o," said Ourlads national scout Dan Shonka, formerly a pro scout for several NFL teams.
[Related: Complete SB Nation Te'o Coverage]
Scott Wright of Draft Countdown, one of the most accurate draft analysts over the last several years, agrees with Shonka that in the end teams will judge Te'o based on what they think of his talent, not his judgment in non-existent girlfriends. In an e-mail, Wright wrote:
"Doubt the Te'o situation will have any effect on his draft stock since it looks like he was the victim and not complicit.
"I could see Te'o sliding a bit, but only because inside linebackers tend to fall. I would say the Bills, Steelers, Giants and Bears are the most likely possibilites in the Top 20."
The Giants have not drafted a linebacker in the first round since Carl Banks in 1984.
NFL.com analyst Gil Brandt is among those who think Te'o could fall in the draft.
''I think some teams will say it isn't worth the problem'' to draft Te'o, said Brandt, who has the linebacker rated 19th overall in the first round.
The former Dallas Cowboys general manager added Thursday that Te'o's stock had plummeted after a poor performance in the BCS championship game. Now, Te'o could fall further.
''I don't think anybody considered him to be a top-five pick before all this happened,'' Brandt said. ''In that game against Alabama, this was like a guy who was the best shooter in the world in basketball and here comes a game and he can't even hit the backboard. His play in that game was absolutely horrible. He missed on run blitzes; guys ran over him ...''
Brandt also noted how the inside linebacker position doesn't carry as much importance in the NFL as it once did. In the last 10 years, only four inside linebackers were taken in the first round, although one of them was perennial All-Pro Patrick Willis of San Francisco.
''I think it would be different if it was a quarterback who would change the game,'' he said. ''But linebackers are a piece to the puzzle; they don't solve the puzzle. Other than Ray Lewis, I don't know if any linebacker you say, `We've have got to have this guy.'
''(Inside) Linebackers are not as important as they used to be. We're down to one or two first-round linebackers now.''
NFL talent evaluators who spoke to Yahoo! Sports NFL writer Jason Cole didn't seem to know what to think:
"You're going to have to know what's going on with this whole deal," said an NFC personnel man, one of three scouts and/or executives who would only address the situation on the condition that their names were withheld. "And you have to go way beyond what the Notre Dame people tell you or what the kid and his agent tell you. You have to know what you're dealing with."
"At the end of the day, he's a good football player. As long as he and your team can deal with that first wave of publicity, you take him," the personnel man said in between chuckles that were equal parts weary and amused. "From everything I can tell, he's a good kid and a good player. He didn't hurt anybody. It's just weird. Really, really weird."