Manti Te’o would be a depth linebacker who would play primarily on first down or in goal-line situations. He was drafted 38th overall in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers.
Te’o would be a cheap veteran inside linebacker who will undoubtedly be a bargain. So if you’re the Detroit Lions, why not take a chance on him? He’d be a low-risk addition that could provide much-needed leadership to a young group of linebackers hoping to find their way.
There is a chance like the New England Patriots often do, of finding some success in a veteran player when everyone else seemingly has them written off. Matt Patricia likes to bring in plenty of former Pats players, although Manti hasn’t played in New England he’s got that Patriots’ sense to him.
Remember the Lions of the past couldn’t find a spot for Kyle Van Noy; he goes to New England and becomes a vital part of their defense. Maybe the 28-year-old veteran backer could mentor both young Jarrad Davis along with rookie Jahlani Tavai.
Davis could find himself playing outside this year in three LBer sets with Tavai playing inside. Devon Kennard is expected to be the other outside backer along with Christian Jones. After that, the group really drops off. Personally, I think the Detroit Lions could upgrade both outside backers as soon as next season.
Manti wouldn’t help the Lions on special teams much at this point in his career, but Tavai, Kennard, and Jones all could be relegated to kick coverage instead. Jalen Reeves-Maybin with Garret Dooley is listed as the second-team outside linebackers. Although Te’o doesn’t play outside, he will be cheap enough to roster and don’t forget Tavai spent time playing both inside and out during his colligate career. I could see specific situations where the Detroit Lions could field Davis, Tavai & Te’o at the same time.
In six NFL seasons, he’s played 59 games recording 313 total tackles, 2 interceptions, 1 fumbled forced, 1.5 sacks between the San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints.