Sports Out West

NFL draft results 2013: Manti Te’o, Chargers perfect match

Photo by N. Tommy / Wikimedia Commons

When the San Diego Chargers moved up via trade and selected Manti Te’o with the 38th overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, both parties got something they desperately needed. 

For San Diego, it’s a dynamic playmaker in addition to someone that has enough notoriety to attract fans by name alone. But Te’o doesn’t come without substance. He finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting and had a stellar senior season, with the exception of the BCS National Championship where he appeared rattled against Alabama. But went through a well-publicized controversy that caused his draft stock to plummet. Not helping matters was his 4.8 40-yard dash time. 

Even his sexuality came into question  — not that it should matter. 

Photo by N. Tommy / Wikimedia Commons

Photo by N. Tommy / Wikimedia Commons

But what if it did? What better place to come into a testosterone-driven league and sport that than in the comfortable confines of America’s Finest City? San Diego is not only almost as laid back of a place as his native state of Hawaii, but it’s also the media equivalent of Fiji. What that means is that he’ll be able to focus on football, not dealing with the media circus that comes from having a fake girlfriend and accompanying scandal. 

Te’o has a strong track record of performing well when football is his primary area of focus and he has little distraction, just look at Games 1-12 of the Notre Dame schedule from 2012. Save the title game, he was a beast. Smart money says that’s who he is, not the player that looked lost and on a mental island against ‘Bama. 

In San Diego, he can just play football.

The Chargers made a bold move by trading up to get him, but it’s still low-risk, high reward gamble. If they get anywhere close to the player that was a landslide winner of several major collegiate awards including the Maxwell Award, Ronnie Lott Trophy, Vince Lombardi Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, they’ll look like geniuses. 

The Chargers are in need of an identity with the Norv Turner and A.J. Smith era now behind them. In all likelihood they may have found one. 

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Michael C. Jones is the managing editor and founder of Sports Out West and a Southern California-based sports journalist. His work is also regularly featured on Yahoo! Sports and SB Nation. You can catch up with him on Twitter: @MikeJonesTweets.