Manti Te’o visits Halas Hall, projected to go No. 20 to Bears
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org April 10, 2013 10:04PM
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Updated: April 11, 2013 3:13PM
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o’s tour around the NFL for predraft visits included a recent stop at Halas Hall to meet with the Bears, a league source said.
The Bears are among a growing list of teams that have met with or will meet with Te’o in the weeks leading up to the draft, which starts April 25 in New York.
Linebacker is a position the Bears will address in the draft — with Brian Urlacher gone and D.J. Williams and James Anderson signed to one-year deals — and they often have been linked to Te’o. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr., for instance, has the Bears taking Te’o with the 20th pick in his latest projections.
‘‘I just think Chicago is where it’s going to fall,’’ Kiper said on a recent conference call. ‘‘I tried to get him down to Minnesota [at 23rd or 25th] because it makes so much sense. . . . They desperately need a middle linebacker. [They have] a big hole at that position. It would be perfect for what they do there.’’
Te’o’s draft stock has fluctuated after his poor performance in the national championship game, the fake-girlfriend hoax and his slow 40-yard-dash times at the NFL combine. But his better showing at Notre Dame’s pro day has helped.
Kiper said he sees Te’o having a similar career to that of former linebacker Chris Spielman, a four-time Pro Bowl player in 11 seasons.
‘‘Te’o can have that type of career,’’ Kiper said. ‘‘His 40 time improved from 4.82 to anywhere from 4.69 to 4.74 when he ran that second 40 . . . at his pro day. I think [he’ll go to] Chicago at 20. If not, the latest he falls is to Minnesota at 23.’’
There are other linebackers — notably Georgia’s Alec Ogletree and Kansas State’s Arthur Brown — the Bears will consider at No. 20, if they’re available. But it’s worth noting general manager Phil Emery has said he’s open to trading the pick for more selections because the Bears have only five in the draft.
If that’s the case, Kiper said there are ‘‘a lot of viable options’’ at inside linebacker for the Bears to look at. He named Jonathan Bostic (Florida), Steve Beauharnais (Rutgers), Kiko Alonso (Oregon), A.J. Klein (Iowa State), Kevin Reddick (North Carolina) and Jonathan Stewart (Texas A&M) as later-round options.
NOTE: Former Bears and Northern Illinois receiver Sam Hurd will plead guilty to conspiring to sell cocaine and marijuana, his attorney said.
Hurd, 27, has denied dealing drugs since his 2011 arrest in Chicago, which badly embarrassed the Bears. He was scheduled to stand trial Monday in federal court in Dallas.
But attorney Jay Ethington said Hurd will change his plea to guilty Thursday. He said Hurd, who’s accused of buying large quantities of cocaine from a federal informant and of shipping even larger quantities of marijuana, is a ‘‘marijuana addict’’ who will fight the government’s attempt to jail him for more than a decade.
The only cocaine Hurd had anything to do with was supplied by the informant in a sting, Ethington said.
Contributing: Sean Jensen, Kim Janssen