Would the Patriots be interested in drafting Manti Te’o? Possibly, if for no other reason than he might have great value in April’s draft. Te’o’s draft stock seems to be plummeting and the reasoning for NFL teams appears to go deeper than simply “we-don’t-want-to-get-involved-in-that-catfish-soap-opera-stuff.”
According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, NFL coaches and GMs want to know if Te’o is gay.
"Here's the elephant in the room for the teams and it shouldn't matter, but we have to step aside from the rest of reality and walk into the unique industry that is the NFL. Teams want to know whether Manti Te'o is gay,” Florio said on the Dan Patrick Show. "They just want to know. They want to know because in an NFL locker room, it's a different world. It shouldn't be that way.
"If you go Katie Couric on Manti Te'o, it's going to come out that some team, some GM, some coach asked Manti Te'o if he's gay," Florio added. "Then you'll have to deal with all the distraction and all the stuff that flows after that."
There has yet to be a high-profile gay athlete in any of the four major North American sports. Former NBA player John Amaechi announced he was gay in February of 2007, but only when his playing career was coming to an end.
Amaechi told ESPN that year that a stigma most definitely still existed in sports regarding gay athletes and that many have great reservations about coming out.
“It’s a frightening prospect. It’s terrifying,” Amaechi said. “There are people for whom their entire world is based around this idea that people will look at them — and when they look at them, they are NBA superstars, NBA players. And any change to that would be physiologically devastating. Emotionally devastating, financially devastating.”
Te’o’s draft stock also took a hit Monday due to his poor 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine, an unimpressive 4.82.
The Patriots haven’t been shy in the past about drafting players with draft-time issues. Just five days before last year’s draft, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was arrested for allegedly assaulting an officer. He was originally thought to be a potential second round pick but fell all the way to the seventh round before being picked by New England.
In 2010, tight end Aaron Hernandez was thought to be a second rounder or possibly a first rounder but fell to the fourth round before the Pats scooped him up. The Florida product’s stock fell due to his history of marijuana use.
That same year New England nabbed fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski in the second round after his stock fell due to a severe back injury in college.
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King said this week that he believes there is "no way" Te’o drops out of the first round. The Patriots hold the No. 29 overall pick and the 29th pick (59th overall) of the second round.