Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Combine participation is just the beginning for Te'o in pre-draft process

Posted by: under Vikings, Leslie Frazier, Leslie Frazier, Vikings draft Updated: February 26, 2013 - 8:17 AM

After Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o participated in his highly anticipated NFL Combine press conference Sunday, we brought you a recap of the poise and grace he showed in continuing to explain through and move on from his bizarre fake girlfriend hoax.

Saturday’s appearance in the Lucas Oil Stadium interview room marked Te’o’s first appearance in front of a media swarm since the controversy broke last month. He had previously done lengthy one-on-one interviews with ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap and ABC’s Katie Couric.

Yet if the complexities of the Te’o scandal were far too intricate to fully understand after Schaap’s 2.5-hour grilling and another hour-long session with Couric – not to mention the two-day Dr. Phil special with admitted hoax perpetrator, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo – then Saturday’s 14-minute session at the combine certainly wasn’t going to provide final resolution to everything.

You can read all of what Te’o said Saturday in Indianapolis right here.

But what also should be made clear is that while the star linebacker’s participation at the combine will certainly move his story forward, there is plenty more NFL teams will be digging for and trying to learn about his controversy, his mental make-up, his maturity and, yes, his football ability before April’s draft.

On Monday, Te’o participated in athletic testing at the combine. His results:

40-yard dash: 4.82 seconds

Broad jump: 113 inches

Vertical leap: 33 inches

Three-cone drill: 7.13 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4,27 seconds

Bench press: Did not participate due to a right shoulder injury

After that, for those teams who remain interested in Te’o as a prospect, the private interviews in the weeks ahead will be vital.

As Te’o departs the combine, here’s a reminder of what many NFL folks have been saying about his situation.

Leslie Frazier, Vikings head coach

"Probably like everybody, you want to hear from him, what exactly went on. I'm looking forward to sitting down and talking with him … just to get to know him as a person, just to get a feel for would he fit on our football team. I think he's a very good football player from what our scouts have told me. I haven't had a chance to watch him on tape yet. It's a matter of can he fit our locker room, can he fit our football team and what would his role be?”

Rick Spielman, Vikings GM

“It’s not like anything else we don’t do. You gather all the information you can. I did watch Dr. Phil for the first time in my life [a few weeks back]. Which was interesting. I was like, ‘This guy makes a living?’ Maybe we should hire him to come down. We might need some of that. I did watch those interviews, with that other person [Tuiasosopo]. But all we do is gather all the information, and you go through your process to make the determination. … In the end, you’ll sit there and discuss all that. Every team will make their own determination. How do you compare what happened to him, because he’s an extremely talented football player, against a guy who may have a drug issue or may have an arrest record or may have some other off-field issue? Everybody’s going to have their difference of opinion. We’ll go through that process as well. … We know some things that have not been reported in the media. I’ll say that.”

Gil Brandt, former vice president of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys

“Teams will bring him in for visits. And I’d bet there will be upward of 15 teams wanting to get him to their facility. And what I’d want to use that time for is to have somebody who understands those kinds of things more than I do. So you’re going to want to have somebody from your psychological evaluation department who’s versed on these kinds of things take a look at it. And you want them to dig into the situation and tell you, ‘Hey, this guy is a fraud.’ Or ‘This guy is truthful.’ And as I’ve said myself, I don’t think he’s a fraud. I think he’s a truthful guy. But I’ll also tell you what, when all this first came out, I had no idea what to think. Because nothing like this has ever happened before. That’s why it’s so interesting.”

Ron Rivera, Panthers head coach

“If he can handle that distraction and still be able to perform on the football field, I really don't think it makes that much of a difference. Whatever happened is a set of circumstances that he only he really knows what it was all about. We'll talk about it.  We'll find out about it. The bottom line is, is he a good person and can he play football? That's probably the most important thing that he'll have to answer. I don't think it's going to hurt his draft stock. He's coming here to improve his draft stock. I do think he's a heck of a football player and I think he's got a bright future in this league.”

Les Snead, Rams general manager

“That issue is not, ‘Life's over.’ He's 21. Life ends at maybe 80. He's got a lot of healthy years left.”

Mike Mayock, NFL Network draft expert and NBC color commentator for Notre Dame games

“You better look people in the eye. And I know you're going to be embarrassed and I know it's going to be uncomfortable. All the way up through the draft, it's not going to be a comfortable situation for this kid. But don't be embarrassed.  I think he's a good kid, and I think he made a mistake, and he's naive and all that stuff. But don't back away. Look people in the eye, tell them your story, and let the tape do the talking for you. … I think there are two schools of thought. One is most of us have made mistakes at age 21, and the kid's naive, and it's embarrassing. But it shouldn't really hurt the kid because it's not like one of those major things where you say we can't have him on our team. Some other teams are going to look at him and say he lied to his father. He had a chance when he found out about what really happened, he had a chance to tell the nation, and he lied to the nation. And do you want a liar in your locker room? … At the end of the day what I think happens is that up until is that story became public, he had a plus, plus, plus intangible grade. Was he going to become Ray Lewis, a guy who could really galvanize a locker room? He had a huge intangible grade that would push his on‑the‑field grade higher. But I think he's lost all of that. At best, it's now going to be neutral. So now it’s just, hey, what kind of player you are, and where can we slot you? “

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