Manti Te'o opened the door for scouts openly questioning his athleticism with a disappearing act in the BCS national championship game. He propped that door open with his 4.82 40-yard dash Monday.
He was clocked at 4.80 on his second try -- the so-called official time is determined by the league -- when NFL Network cameras fixed on Ravens coach John Harbaugh captured him shaking his head while looking at his own stopwatch and mouthing "4-8-3."
On Monday, he didn't have to worry about being buried by NFLDraftScout.com's top-ranked guard Chance Warmack, the All-American from Alabama who manhandled Te'o in January. On that day, Te'o was on the wrong side of the Eddie Lacy's first-round resume tape.
Lacy isn't a burner, and lacks the make-you-miss wiggle in the hole to leave lunging tacklers in his wake. But the potential first-round pick often beat Te'o outside and easily left him in his wake on cutbacks between the tackles.
At 255 -- Te'o was listed at that weight by Notre Dame -- he'd be equipped to play inside but he slimmed down to 241 for the combine. He doesn't have the bulk or the speed, based on tape and his workout Monday, to be a three-down linebacker and his shorter arms and squat frame will make defeating blocks difficult.
The fact that he didn't show remarkable speed will register with evaluators trying to figure whether Te'o's standout play in 2011 and '12 or the miserably forgettable effort in the BCS title game was the real prospect.
Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis, a second-round pick out of Ohio State, ran a 4.82 40. Vontaze Burfict, a starter for the Bengals last season after running a 5.1 in Indianapolis, are examples of production and instincts being more important measures than straight-line speed in short and t-shirts.
While the Lavar Arrington (4.49), Brian Urlacher (4.55) and Patrick Willis (4.38) athletic size-speed freaks are drafted in the first round because of those measurables, it's important not to overrate the stopwatch element. Te'o was improved in pass coverage last season, and there are scouts who consider him a big-play 'backer even if he's so-so speed is a factor in other areas of the game.
London Fletcher was a 4.85 guy undrafted out of John Carroll because of his lack of wheels and height (5-10, 233). But he'll be remembered for his active 240-game streak over the past 15 seasons.