In a matchup of possibly the two most controversial prospects in the draft, we have Alec Ogletree versus Manti Te'o. Ogletree plays inside linebacker at Georgia, while Manti Te'o plays inside linebacker at Notre Dame. As Bruce Buffer of the UFC (formerly of WWF/WWE) says, "Let's get it on!"
Ogletree stands at 6'3 and weighs 232 pounds. He has excellent speed for the linebacker position, as he use to play safety at Georgia. Alec has elite speed and can chase down defenders with ease. Ogletree oozes potential as he is still developing as a linebacker. Remember, he moved to linebacker just over two years ago. Alec is very athletic, with very fluid hips and can change directions north/south very fast.
He is a very physical tackler, doesn't shy away from any incoming lineman or lead blockers. Ogletree can weave his way through traffic and get to the ball with great awareness. Alec blows up plays on a regular basis. He is at his best, when he closes off the edge when runners look to bounce it outside. Ogletree is a very effective blitzer, as he can drop from coverage to rush quickly.
In coverage, Ogletree shows off his former safety skills nicely. He is not phased by play action, as he can drop back into a zone and cover well. Alec reads the quarterback's eyes well and tends to jump a lot of routes. Also, Ogletree can read screen plays very well and slips through to make a play most of the time. He closes quickly on balls, as his length and speed make it hard for quarterbacks to zip it through zones.
Alec does have some character issues that he will be grilled on at the combine next week. Ogletree was arrested recently for DUI. Also, he was pulled over for a speeding and lane violation as well to add on to it. Before the season even started, he was suspended for a violation of team rules. In 2010, Ogletree was suspended one game for being charged with a misdemeanor (stealing a scooter helmet).
On the field, Ogletree has some holes in his game as well. He rarely uses his hands to fight against blockers. Alec overruns a lot of plays and struggles to recover from them. He loses gap assignments as well due to missteps in his reads. Ogletree does have major issues dealing with second-level blockers. He can't overpower them due to his developing frame. Ogletree tends to get walled up by blockers as well and can't find a way to get around them. Ogletree dives a lot for tackles, instead of using correct form.
Below are some scouting videos of Ogletree from JPDraftJedi:
Georgia vs. Alabama (SEC Championship): Ogletree is #9 in red and lined up at inside linebacker.
Georgia vs. Nebraska (Capital One Bowl): Ogletree is #9 in white and lined up at inside linebacker.
Ogletree is projected to play inside linebacker and can fit in either the 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. Even though his off the field issues are troubling, his upside will have a team take him late in the first round. Alec has the talent, but is his head in the right place to succeed on the next level?
If the Colts were to select Ogletree with the 24th pick, I would be fine with it. The Colts don't have a glaring need at inside linebacker, but could be a key rotational piece his first year or two. Eventually, I see Ogletree starting in this defense. He fits the 3-4 system a lot better then Pat Angerer ever would. Also, Kavell Conner will be a free agent after next season. Maybe the Colts think Conner will be getting a heavy contract on the market from someone else and just insert Ogletree. He doesn't make the most sense, but he could play a key factor if he ends up in Indianapolis.
Now we get to maybe one of the more interesting prospects in the draft, Manti Te'o. He played inside linebacker for Notre Dame this season. Te'o stands at 6'2 and weighs in at 255 pounds. Manti was involved in a mysterious tale of a fake girlfriend online, which took over the sports world for a solid two weeks. Outside of that situation, Te'o played very well this season.
Te'o has the upper and lower body strength right now is NFL caliber. He has the strength to over-power blockers in 1-on-1 situations. Manti always seems to win the battle of pad level when taking on blocks. He accelerates quickly when breaking through the line and can explode into tackles. Te'o lost 10-15 pounds in the off-season, which helped out his mobility substantially.
Manti improved his play recognition every year at Notre Dame. His pass instincts were off the charts last year, resulting in seven interceptions. He stays disciplined in his gaps and can read the play quickly. Te'o was the motivational leader of that defense. They thrived off of his energy all season. He never took plays off while he constantly flowed to the ball. Rarely did Te'o stop before the whistle had blown.
Te'o ended up second in the Heisman voting behind Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M. For a linebacker, that is an amazing feat. Some of the reason why Te'o ended up in New York City for the Heisman presentation was due to his "girlfriend" and grandmother dying on the same day during the season.
He is an every down linebacker on the NFL level. Manti has good range for his size and moves well in the middle of the field. Te'o closes in quickly due to him always having a nose for the ball. Manti recognizes screens well and gets to the ball carrier quick. He can re-route a tight end and has the ball skills to cover them. Te'o's loss in weight helped him greatly with his ability to cover versatile tight ends.
Against the run, Te'o is always around the ball inside the lines. He can shed blocks well and takes on lead blockers with force. Te'o rarely dives for tackles, always wraps up and drives his legs. Manti can't stay blocked long due to his top-notch hand work. His timing and instincts are superb in blitzing situations. When Manti blitzes, he has the ability to read and exploit matchups along the offensive line.
Te'o's flaws in his game can easily be seen. His backpedal is stiff and high on his drops into coverage. He takes false steps on play action and misdirection plays, which opens up a wide lane for the quarterback to throw through. Manti sometimes comes in with his head down, allowing the ball carrier to avoid him. Also, the whole fake girlfriend story is a big red flag for some teams. It will be interesting to see how Te'o handles that next week at the combine.
Below are some scouting videos of Te'o by Mario Clavel and Aaron Aloysius from YouTube.
Notre Dame vs. Miami: Te'o is #5 in blue, lined up at inside linebacker.
Notre Dame vs. Michigan State: Te'o is #5 in white, lined up at inside linebacker.
Just like Ogletree, Te'o would be a nice fit the Colts. He would come in and start right away, benching either Conner or Jerrell Freeman. Manti is a plug-and-play kind of player. With the fake girlfriend story likely making his name drop on some draft boards, I would not be surprised to see Te'o available at 24. If we were to draft an inside linebacker, you can say goodbye to Angerer.
Who should advance on to the second round of the tournament? Will it be Alec Ogletree or Manti Te'o getting your important vote?