CONTROVERSIAL LINEBACKER Manti Te’o was the most notable exclusion from the first round of this year’s NFL draft.
The New York Giants, Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings were thought to be interested in taking the Hawaii-born player from the University of Notre Dame but they all made different selections.
Interest was expected to be high in Te’o after he won eight post-season awards at the end of 2012, but despite being one of the most decorated college football players of all time he had off-field issues that affected his form.
Earlier in 2013 he came to the wider public’s attention when a hoax story was released around a girlfriend that had died, however the girl never actually existed and it was revealed Te’o had been tricked into an online relationship with a non-existent woman.
The off-field stories affected the 22-year-old’s form in the latter parts of last season and he struggled in the national game against Alabama, raising concerns among the teams around his ability to make the step up to the NFL.
The linebacker is expected to be an early second round pick for someone, with any of the three previously interested teams likely to add him to their roster.
Elsewhere in the draft there were three international selections that show the appeal of NFL as the influx of foreign-born players continues to grow.
The Detroit Lions used their first pick, the fifth overall, to take a gamble on Ezekiel Ansah from Brigham Young University. The defensive end, who was born in Ghana, only started playing three years ago but has quickly made an impression.
Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei was drafted by the Carolina Panthers as the 14th overall pick after impressing for Utah last season. The big Tongan picked up the award for top defensive lineman last season with 44 tackles and is expected to form a solid partnership with Dwan Edwards for the Panthers.
The final foreign-born draft was Germany’s Bjoern Werner, who was chosen as the 24th pick by the Indianapolis Colts. The 22-year-old showed his qualities playing for Florida State last season as he achieved 12 sacks in eight games, and was picked by the Colts as they look to bolster their defensive end options.