Manti Te'o becoming a Baltimore Raven? ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper says it's probably not going to happen.
The Ravens have a need for an inside linebacker and are expected to have interest in Te'o if he's available when they're on the clock with their first pick in the NFL draft, but Kiper said Wednesday that, in his opinion, Te'o won't still be around when Baltimore picks at No. 32 in the first round.
"I thought Te'o could possibly be there," Kiper said during a national conference call Wednesday. "I wanted to get him to 32, but there's just no way. You have too many teams that could take Manti Te'o. You think about the Giants at 19, the Bears at 20, the Vikings at both 23 or 25, so I don't think Te'o's going to be there, unfortunately, for the Ravens."
Te'o is one of the more heavily scrutinized players in this year's draft - with concerns stemming from the well-publicized girlfriend hoax to Te'o's lack of ideal athleticism for a three-down inside linebacker. But, despite the issues, Te'o was a two-time All-American at Notre Dame and Kiper said he could see Te'o becoming a Chris Spielman-type player at the NFL level.
Even if it's not Te'o, Kiper said he expects Baltimore to select an inside linebacker during the first few rounds of the draft.
As far as the first round, Georgia's Alec Ogletree and LSU's Kevin Minter have both been mentioned as possible players of interest for the Ravens, but, like with Te'o, Kiper said he doesn't expect Ogletree or Minter to still be available when Baltimore finally picks at No. 32.
Minter ran the 40-yard dash in 4.81 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine in February - a subpar time for an inside linebacker - but he earns high praise for his prowess against the run and is coming off a junior season at LSU that he posted 130 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, four sacks and an interception.
NOTES: The Ravens released linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo Wednesday. Ayanbadejo confirmed the move on Twitter. Said Ayanbadejo on Twitter: "I would like to thank the city of Baltimore and the Ravens organization for an amazing ride. We will forever be united as champions!" Ayanbadejo, 36, spent five seasons with the Ravens and was a valued presence on the team's special teams units. He was set to enter the second season of a three-year, $3.22 million contract he signed in 2012. Releasing Ayanbadejo saves $806,667 of space under the salary cap for Baltimore, which now has around $6 million in space under the salary cap. ... Ravens free-agent left tackle Bryant McKinnie tweeted Wednesday that his agent spoke to Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome "the other day" and that there's still a chance he returns to Baltimore. "We still have a chance 2 get something done. Be patient," McKinnie tweeted. McKinnie has significant off-the-field baggage but was key in Baltimore's offensive success during its run to a Super Bowl title. Ravens coach John Harbaugh said in March that Baltimore is "very open" to the possibility of retaining McKinnie, who's garnered only minimal interest as a free agent.