Manti has the size, strength and speed to be an impact linebacker for the team that drafts him in the NFL. He has excellent instincts and leadership skills. You can use Manti to attack the line of scrimmage and disrupt or use him in pass coverage to intercept passes. Manti has the quickness to be used at any one of the linebacker positions and in any style of defense. You can also use Manti as a spy on any running back or running quarterback. He shows good quick change of direction ability and burst to the play. Manti can be your coach on the field. He can be your best player on the field. Manti has the instincts and free lance ability of a Troy Polamalu, the speed to stay in pass coverage with pass catching tight ends, the strength and bulk to stop the run and the speed to run down players from behind. He reminds me a lot of Brian Urlacher. He can be special. His only downside? Every time he makes a play on the field like forcing a fumble, intercepting a pass, making a sack, tackling a running back for a lose, all I can think of in my head is the Jamaican Banana Boat Song Day-O. Sing it with me...Te'o, Teee'O - when he tackles you he makes you want to go hoommme...when he tackles you he makes you want to go home!
When Manti was a sophomore, he was the best shed and tackle linebacker I had seen in years. This year, his tackling techniques are very poor. I guess that's what his coaches wanted him to do. Instead of attacking the line of scrimmage, all they wanted him to do was attack a gap and disrupt the play so that others could make a tackle. I suspect that is because Manti had some very good teammates playing in front of him on the line of scrimmage. They also set him off the line deeper this year and used him in pass coverage more than in the past. Very disappointing to see a tackling machine turned into a "diving at the player's feet head first" type of tackler. This style of tackling will result in head and shoulder injuries. If Manti doesn't keep his feet and go back to tackling the way he was taught in high school, it will result in a shortened career.
It's real simple -- there is nothing Manti can't do on the field. However, in my opinion, he has to clean up his tackling techniques to stay injury free and on the field to impact. I feel bringing him closer to the line of scrimmage so that he can get to the play quicker and not have to leave his feet to make a tackle for a loss would be beneficial to his health and to the team that drafts him. As I stated before, Manti has Brian Urlacher type talent. He has the potential to impact the same way Urlacher has impacted for his team. Tackling will be the key to his success. There are a lot of very good linebackers in this draft so Manti might be caught in the numbers game as far as value and where he gets drafted, but make no mistake about it, Manti has the potential to be an impact linebacker at multiple positions. He has high football intelligence, quick twitch athletic ability and his overall intangibles are outstanding. It's just that simple. Damn...I'm still singing that Banana Boat song...Te'o...Teee'O once he tackles you he makes you want to go hoommme.
Drew "The B.S. Detector" Boylhart