Te'o making a (faster) run at NFL Draft

Te'o making a (faster) run at NFL Draft

March 26, 2013, 4:30 pm
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- If Manti Te'o is the heir apparent to Brian Urlacher, the Bears weren't tipping their hand at Notre Dame's pro day on Tuesday.

While Te'o worked out in front of scouts from about two dozen teams at the Loftus Center the Bears only had one representative in attendance -- executive scout Jeff Shiver. Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, general manager Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman weren't on campus to watch Te'o.

Whether that's a sign of things to come for when the Bears are on the clock with the No. 20 pick in April's NFL Draft, though, remains to be seen.

[WATCH: Te'o ready to focus on just football]

Te'o found out about the Bears and Urlacher moving on from each other from the in-game ticker while playing Madden '13. While some have speculated the Bears could look at Te'o with their first-round pick now that Urlacher's going elsewhere, Te'o said that thought never crossed his mind.

"I don't really pay attention to that stuff," Te'o said. "I just let teams do what they do, and I do what I can do. But yeah, I wasn't too sure how to respond to what happened, and I was just like 'oh wow, that's very sad.'"

Te'o probably helped his cause by running a 4.69-second 40-yard dash on Tuesday, an improvement of over a tenth of a second from his showing at the NFL Scouting Combine last month in Indianapolis. Te'o blamed his poor 40 time at the combine on exhaustion, and thought his showing on his home turf was a more accurate representation of his speed.

[FROM COMBINE: Te'o's draft stock takes a hit after 40 time]

"It was more comfortable being out here and performing here at Notre Dame," Te'o said. "I was very pleased with what happened."

Colleague Matt Bowen pointed out scouts say Te'o played at a 4.7 clip during his senior season at Notre Dame, so that backs Te'o's 40 time at his pro day. But while Te'o hoped to measure out well in drills with the pads off, he'd rather have teams look at his tape -- which certainly plays in his favor, outside of the BCS Championship at least.

[WATCH: Garfien, Stankevitz break down Notre Dame's Pro Day

"I'm not sure how teams are going to evaluate me, but it's about your film," Te'o said. "They see what I could do on the football field, and obviously that's what I'm comfortable with: find ball, hit ball, make plays. That's what I'm going to improve on and I'm glad this is over and that all of us can focus on preparing to play football now."

The focus is no longer on Lennay Kekua and that bizarre saga, one which led to plenty of questions last month in Indianapolis. Some teams wanted to know about it more than others, but ultimately the only concern was how well Te'o will grade out as an NFL player. That became a bigger concern when Te'o ran a slow 40-yard dash.

[MORE: Te'o wants to focus on moment, football]

"Let's focus on football. That was my message," Te'o said of his time at the combine. "I'm a football player. I made mistakes, but nothing that affected my play on the football field."
Draft analyst Mike Mayock has Te'o being selected somewhere between pick No. 19 (Giants) and pick No. 32 (Ravens), a steep dropoff from where he was projected to go prior to the BCS Championship and the Kekua mess. Still, it's likely Te'o will go in the first round -- if not Chicago, Mayock sees Minnesota as an option, given their recent success with drafting Notre Dame players (Harrison Smith, Kyle Rudolph).

No matter where or when Te'o lands, he sounds like someone who will be incredibly relieved to hear his name called.

"When you start playing football, and at the age when you decide man I really want to do this for a living, draft day is the day you dream of," Te'o said. "Obviously when that happens I'm going to be very happy that I got to spend it with my family, and that we finally made it. And it's the first step to a very, very long journey."