Bob Crable remains the lone Notre Dame linebacker ever drafted in the NFL’s first round.
Manti Te'o was not selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Manti Te’o, a 2012 unanimous All-American, was projected in many mock drafts to be a first-round selection and join Crable in that exclusive company. Instead, Te’o and Alabama running back Eddie Lacy are now listed by ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. as the Nos. 1-2 “best available players” heading into the second round on Friday evening.
No running back was taken in the first round, and the lone middle/inside linebacker chosen was Georgia’s Alec Ogletree with the 30th pick (St. Louis). Two outside linebackers also were picked — Oregon’s Dion Jordan surprisingly at No. 3 (Miami) and Georgia’s Jarvis Jones at No. 17 (Pittsburgh).
Although Te’o had been projected to go to the Minnesota Vikings in several mock drafts, including No. 23 by Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, Minnesota took Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd with that selection, and then followed with Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes at No. 25.
The Vikings then traded away their second-, third-, fourth- and seventh-round picks to New England for the right to move into the No. 29 slot. However, just when it seemed like Te’o would round out a trio of Viking defenders in each area of the first round, Minnesota instead opted for Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.
Another popular opinion had Te’o going to the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens with the 32nd pick, especially with 13-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Ray Lewis having retired following the season. The Ravens instead opted for Florida safety Matt Elam.
The most decorated player in Notre Dame history — in terms of receiving nine individual national awards — the Heisman Trophy runner-up Te’o finished his Fighting Irish career third on the all-time tackles chart. His 437 stops trail only Crable (521 from 1978-81) and Bob Golic (479 from 1975-78, while also playing middle guard on occasion).
The 113 tackles Te’o recorded as a senior were less than what he had as a sophomore (133) and junior (128), but his impact as an anchor and leader on the collective defense improved, as did his coverage skills during a 12-0 regular season.
Entering his senior year, Te’o hadn’t recorded an interception and had broken up only six passes. In 2012, he intercepted seven passes, a single-season Notre Dame record, and he also was credited with four others broken up.
Unfortunately, a confluence of different factors saw his stock gradually plummet, starting with a well-under-par performance in the 42-14 loss to Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game Jan. 7, the infamous fake-girlfriend hoax and a 4.82 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine, although he improved that to the 4.75 range at Notre Dame’s Pro Day.
Although Crable is the lone Irish first-round pick at linebacker (No. 23 overall by the New York Jets in 1982), it should be noted that the highest selection by an Irish linebacker was Myron Pottios at No. 19 in 1961 by the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, back then there were only 14 picks in the first round.