Te'o in Ravens' sights?

Te'o in Ravens' sights?
January 27, 2013, 5:00 pm

Now, wouldn’t this be fascinating?

It’s not unusual to see mock drafts that show the Ravens targeting a linebacker. After all, they will need to replace the retiring Ray Lewis. OK, maybe “replace” isn’t the right word, because it’s asking a lot of anyone, much less a rookie, to step in and perform like a player bound for the Hall of Fame.

But one player named as targeted for the Ravens has already felt his share of scrutiny, though not the kind that comes from what he does on the field.

According to the mock draft by Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks, the Ravens will take Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o. Here’s what Banks wrote:

“Not sure where the draft stock of Te'o will settle after the well-chronicled tale of his hoax of a dying Internet girlfriend becomes yesterday's news, but NFL executives I talked to last week were taking a wait-and-see approach. Te'o is a tackling machine and he finds the football in the takeaway department, too, but him getting run over in embarrassing fashion against Alabama had to give some teams pause about his overall game. At the bottom of the first round, however, Ozzie Newsome and Co. might consider him a steal of a replacement for the retired Ray Lewis.”

Te’o certainly will enter the NFL with a most unusual backstory. And you would expect to see lots of fans in opposing stadiums holding up signs that say things like, “I’m Manti’s girlfiend.”

But if you back off from the whole tawdry fake-girlfriend affair for a moment, consider how this could be a good move for the Ravens. Assuming Te’o was just duped and he repairs his psyche — and also assuming his poor effort against Alabama was a byproduct of knowing the story was looming — he could end up dropping further down in the round than his talent deserves, giving the Ravens a chance to make a steal, as Banks writes.