Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o made a great first impression during NFL Scouting Combine interviews over the weekend. One NFL coach went so far as to tell NFL Network's Kimberly Jones that Te'o was a "rock star" during his interview.
Te'o will need that goodwill after turning in a disappointing 40-yard dash in linebackers drills Monday in Indianapolis. A stiff Te'o officially clocked in at 4.82 seconds after NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock opined that the linebacker could lock up a first-round draft spot with a 4.70.
To put Te'o's run in perspective, recall that 346-pound Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe nearly equaled that time at 4.87 last year. Checking in smaller than expected at 241 pounds, Te'o needed to crack 4.75 to erase doubts about his athleticism and ability to play all three downs. Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh was less than impressed.
» Te'o might start falling on draft boards behind LSU's Kevin Minter, who officially was clocked at 4.81 in the 40. Several respected analysts have noted from film-watching that Minter did a much better job of shedding blocks at the line of scrimmage last season.
» The star of the linebacker dashes was Missouri's Zaviar Gooden, who carried his sculpted physique to an official fastest time of 4.47. With the NFL moving toward athletic, rangy linebackers capable of covering half of the field, Gooden should be a hot commodity in the 2013 NFL Draft. Coming off a strong Senior Bowl performance, Gooden's stock already was on the rise. Georgia's Cornelius Washington was second-fastest at 4.55, and Florida's Jon Bostic was third at 4.61.@ChrisWesseling.