Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o was not taken in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday. And so fans — and even people who don’t normally care about football — will buzz for another 24 hours about the fake girlfriend hoax and its repercussions on his career.
But what likely dropped Te’o to the second round had little to do with the tabloid-ready story of the woman who supposedly died during the season, only for the Heisman Trophy runner-up to acknowledge in January that he had been a victim of a hoax.
Before those revelations, Te’o struggled in the national championship game against Alabama and its offense full of future NFL draft picks — leaving clubs to wonder how he would fare against similar talent in the pros.
Then he ran a 4.82 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, considered slow for a linebacker. He did better at Notre Dame’s pro day, but NFL teams already had plenty of football reasons to doubt his worthiness as a first-round pick.
Raiders take Hayden
The Oakland Raiders selected Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden with the 12th overall pick after trading down in the draft.
What is most remarkable about Hayden and being selected at No. 12 is what happened just over five months ago. At practice Nov. 6, the 22-year-old tore his inferior vena cava, the vein that carries blood from the lower half of the body to the heart, on a routine play.
He was rushed to a hospital and underwent lifesaving surgery on an injury that carries a 95 percent fatality rate.
A few weeks after surgery, Hayden began his road back to football shape. He met with teams at the NFL combine but didn’t participate in drills. From that point on, Hayden’s name became a hot topic. His stock skyrocketed after his pro day March 18, when he ran a 4.33 in the 40-yard dash.
Trifecta for Alabama
Alabama’s dominance carried over to the NFL draft. The two-time defending national champions became the first college team to produce three consecutive first-round picks since the common draft started in 1967. The Jets selected cornerback Dee Milliner with at No. 9, then guard Chance Warmack promptly went to the Titans, and San Diego picked tackle D.J. Fluker. The back-to-back-to-back picks from one team had only happened once before, according to STATS, Inc. Southern California’s Stanley Havili, David Ausberry, and Malcolm Smith were picked consecutively with seventh-round picks 240-242 in 2011 . . . Offensive linemen Eric Fisher (Central Michigan), Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M), and Lane Johnson (Oklahoma) were selected in the top four of the NFL draft, marking the first time since 1968 that three offensive linemen were taken in the first four picks. Ron Yary (Minnesota), Bob Johnson (Cincinnati), and Russ Washington (San Diego) were selected first, second, and fourth, respectively, that year.
The Chiefs intend to resume trade talks with Miami on Friday that could ultimately send left tackle Branden Albert to the Dolphins. The teams had been discussing a potential trade that would land the Chiefs a second-round pick, but shelved the talks while the first round of the draft was going . . . For the first time in 49 years, a running back was not selected in the first round.
A study conducted by Worcester Polytechnic Institute says there’s more value for second-round draft picks than first-rounders. The analysis of the past 13 seasons shows that second-rounders provide 70 percent of the production of first-round picks but at just 40 percent of the salary.
The study by WPI students Casey Barney, Anthony Caravella, Michael Cullen, and Gary Jackson also concluded that the Steelers have been the most cost-effective team in drafting since 2000. The Rams and Browns ranked as least efficient.
Ex-Lion Williams dies
Former Lions defensive end and ‘‘Fearsome Foursome’’ member Sam Williams has died at age 82. Sam Williams says his father, whose name he shares, died Thursday following an illness at St. Mary Mercy Hospital in Livonia, Mich. . . . Pat Williams signed a one-day contract so he can officially retire as a Minnesota Viking . . . A trucking company suing Pilot Flying J is accusing CEO Jimmy Haslam of obstructing justice and buying off alleged cheated customers. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that in a motion for a restraining order filed Thursday, attorneys for Atlanta Coast Carriers accuse Haslam, who also owns the Browns, of asking customers to sign releases giving up their rights to sue . . . The NFL won a court order to shut down the operators of nearly 1,500 China-based websites accused of selling fake NFL merchandise . . . A coalition of civil rights groups has objected to the racial breakdown of companies working on the new San Francisco 49ers stadium in Santa Clara, saying they have not found any minority-owned companies among the contractors and subcontractors that have been hired.