A growing amount of sources indicate that if the Chicago Bears choose to pick a linebacker with their No. 20 overall pick in the NFL Draft Thursday night, they'll go with Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o.
There are two areas of concern for the Bears: offensive line, as Jay Cutler has spent far too much of the past few seasons with his back on the ground, and middle linebacker, where the team is looking for a replacement for Brian Urlacher, as the team failed to reach an agreement with the eight-time Pro Bowler after 13 seasons with the club.
The likely options available for the Bears will be Te'o and Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree. It seems likely that given the choice, they'll go with Te'o. Stacey Dales reported as such for NFL.com, as did Ian Rapoport:
Both Todd McShay and Mel Kiper, Jr. have the Bears picking Te'o at No. 20 in their final mock drafts heading into Thursday night.
Both Te'o and Ogletree have had off-the-field issues: Ogletree was suspended for the first four games of last year for a violation of team rules and picked up a DUI in February, while Te'o -- well, you might have heard about what happened to him. Ogletree's the better athlete, with tremendous speed and tons of pop in his tackles, but Te'o might be better suited for a more conventional middle linebacker spot -- Ogletree started at safety and played in the 3-4 at Georgia and could be a weakside outside linebacker in the pros.
If the Bears do draft Te'o, it would be a coup for a guy whose coda of his college career got worse and worse and worse. One moment, Te'o was the stud player on a team in the midst of a 12-0 season earning a trip to Radio City Music Hall as a Heisman finalist. The next, he disappeared as Alabama rolled in the BCS Championship Game, then news of his scandal broke, then he ran a dismal 4.82 at the Combine and seemed to be falling out of the first round of the draft. Going to the Bears at 20 would be a happy ending for the Hawaii native.