We've set a record this spring with 568 blog posts about the middle linebacker position, given the Chicago Bears' and Minnesota Vikings' need at the position -- and the presence of Manti Te'o as one of the best available at that position.
So it's not surprising that with a few hours to go before the start of the 2013 draft, we're still wondering whether Te'o will end up with the Bears, the Vikings or if he will be the subject of a dramatic intradivision competition.
ESPN analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay both think the Bears will draft Te'o at No. 20 overall, even if the presumably more talented Alec Ogletree is available. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Vikings are prepared to trade up and over the Bears to ensure they can get Te'o for themselves.
The Vikings, with two first-round draft picks and a total of 11 choices in this draft, certainly have the firepower to do that. But it's fair at least to wonder if the Bears' interest in Te'o is as intense as today's indications.
Do the Bears really want Te'o? Do they simply want the Vikings (or another team with presumed genuine interest) to think that? Do the people representing Te'o want to create a frenzy that could cause him to be drafted higher, with a bigger salary, than he otherwise would be?
The truth, and I know that's what you want, is that no one can know for sure. I remain convinced that Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has interest in Te'o, but I'm not sure it's intense enough to spur him to trade up. The Bears, who have been known for surprises under general manager Phil Emery, have been difficult to project since they signed veteran free agent D.J. Williams.