Monday, May 13, 2013

How Does Te'o Fit for the Chargers?

Many draft pundits were critical of Te'o following his rather poor showing at the combine. His 40 time was worse than expected and he didn't put up anywhere near impressive numbers in the bench press. That performance, coupled with the obvious headache that will follow him because of his fake girlfriend saga, caused many teams to shy away from Te'o. The Chargers made out like bandits when they traded up to get him in the second
round. In essence, they gave up a fourth round pick to make the trade. Te'o fits the Chargers for several reasons.

1) He won't have to blitz. Te'o is going to be penciled in as the day one starter at weakside inside linebacker. This means he isn't going to be called on to provide pressure on most plays. Te'o will get to sit back and use his greatest advantage, his instincts, to its fullest potential. Te'o showed just how soundly he understands the game time after time in college, especially during his senior season. Just look at the number of big impact plays Te'o made last season.

2) He doesn't have to worry about picking up a guard at the next level. Teams are still going to run the ball, so Te'o will deal with this from time to time, but once again, his position will allow him to sit back and make plays. He doesn't have the strength of most linebackers, so this will be a blessing. Te'o is a hard worker, so I look for this to be an area he really focuses on improving.

3) He can step into a leadership role. The Chargers unquestioned leader on offense is quarterback Philip Rivers. He commands respect from everyone in the huddle. The defense really seems to lack that. Sure, there are some great veteran players, but some leadership just seems to be missing. Te'o is a fiery guy who gets behind his teammates and pushes them to succeed. He will have to earn the respect of the team first, but I don't see that being an issue. His play on the field will allow for that to happen. Through rookie mini-camp, Te'o has already shown that he is ready to step up and lead. Guys who have that natural ability are always an asset to a team.

4) His heritage suits him well as a player in San Diego. Te'o couldn't have landed in a better spot than San Diego. His Polynesian roots will help him gain local fan support in a heartbeat. Being so close to his family will also be a big plus. He will have plenty of support from home during his time in san Diego. Let's not forget that perhaps the most famous defensive player for the Chargers was also of Polynesian heritage. This is not to say that Te'o will come close to being the kind of player that legend Junior Seau was, but he will be filling a gap that the team has had for years.

All of these factors combine to give Te'o and the Chargers a wonderful pairing. I look for Te'o to produce well in his first season and to become a vocal leader on this defense.

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