Over the past several weeks, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o has gone from a player among the most frequently projected to the Bears at No. 20 in this month’s draft to just one of a pack.
That may change now. Te’o has visited with the Bears, as well as the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings among NFC North teams and the San Diego Chargers, according to the Palm Beach Post, which also reported that Te’o would visit the Dolphins.
The Bears also have visited with Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown. While predraft visits are not conclusive indicators, in this case they point to the Bears looking aggressively for quality youth at linebacker and at players very likely available at picks below No. 20 if they are able to deal down on leading up to their time on the clock.
Te’o’s stock has gone from top five prior to his disastrous showing in the national championship game against Alabama to late first round after a pedestrian 40-yard-dash time at the Scouting Combine and even out of the first round when his time improved only slightly at his Pro Day in South Bend.
Of 18 mock drafts by NFL experts, Te’o was projected to the Bears at No. 20 by only three. The predominant pick was Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree (seven) with estimates including a couple each for Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert, North Carolina defensive tackle Sylvester Williams and Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant.
The Bears will go into the draft with a small corps of players rated as worth the 20th pick. That group will change on draft day as teams ahead of them make picks and could expand by one or two if highly rated players fall unexpectedly.
[MORE: Brown's Rotoworld player page]
Brown and Te’o have been generally graded at levels that would make them likely available if the Bears trade out of the 20th spot.