Some thought Manti Te'o
would be a late first-rounder, but he fell into the second. (Dave Martin/AP)
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The NFL Draft wait for Manti Te'o ended early on Day 2. The San Diego Chargers traded the 45th and 110th picks to Arizona for the No. 38 selection, which they then used on the scrutinized Notre Dame linebacker.
Te'o's drop out of Round 1 was one of Thursday's big storylines -- teams like the Bears, Vikings (multiple times) and Ravens all passed on him, despite apparent needs at the inside linebacker spots. The Chargers opted not to risk waiting for Te'o at No. 45 later in Round 2.
In terms of media pressure, landing in San Diego should be about as comfortable a situation for Te'o as he could have hoped. That's not a knock on the Chargers fan base or the coverage there, but Te'o on, say, the Jets or Giants, would have cranked up the attention paid to the much-maligned linebacker.
What does await Te'o in San Diego is an inevitable comparison to the late Junior Seau, an interior linebacker who played an irreplaceable role on the team's defense from 1990-2002. The Chargers will be hoping for a similar impact from Te'o, a Heisman finalist last season.
Te'o should pair with Donald Butler at the inside linebacker spots in San Diego's 3-4 -- and that linebacking corps could be pretty stout, with that duo, plus Jarrett Johnson and Melvin Ingram outside. San Diego more than held its own against the run last season, finishing sixth in the league in yards allowed, but it cut Takeo Spikes in a salary-cap move this offseason.
Despite all the hoopla surrounding Te'o, an early Round 2 pick puts him about where he deserved to be from a pure talent perspective. He obviously enjoyed a terrific career at Notre Dame, though as the BCS title game showcased, he's far from a perfect linebacker. He actually could have slipped even further in Round 2, with players like Arthur Brown and Kevin Minter still on the board at No. 38.
But instead, Te'o got the nod as the first linebacker off the board on Day 2. The thought process all along with relation to Te'o was that, at some point in this draft, the benefit of having the talented linebacker would outweigh the headache of dealing with any distractions he may bring.
San Diego felt comfortable enough here to make an aggressive move.