The New York Giants hold the 19th selection in the 2013 NFL Draft and there is already tons of speculation running rampant among draft experts that the Giants could take a linebacker like Alec Olgetree or Manti Te’o. However, a quick look at recent history would probably change their minds.
Giants GM Jerry Reese has never taken a linebacker in the first round of any draft since he became general manager. The highest Reese has ever drafted a linebacker was in the second round, when the Giants selected Clint Sintim in 2009. The Giants, in fact, haven’t taken a linebacker in the first round since they selected Carl Banks in 1984. The Giants also ran a 3-4 defense in 1984, so linebacker was more of a priority than it is now.
The Giants aren’t desperate for a linebacker. They could re-sign Chase Blackburn and they are hoping that Mark Herzlich and Jacquian Williams will progress and realize the potential the coaching staff sees in them.
Do the Giants need a linebacker? Yes, without question they need depth at the position. However, they have areas of bigger need. Right now Will Beatty is going to be a free agent and the Giants might not be able to re-sign him. That would leave a gaping hole at left tackle that would need to be filled and the cheapest way to do that is through the draft.
The Giants also need to add depth along the defensive line after losing Chris Canty as a cap casualty and where Osi Umenyiora is a free agent and Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul are coming off of sub-par seasons. They did re-sign Shaun Rogers, but he missed all of last season due to injury and Markus Kuhn also went down for the year with an ACL injury. Marvin Austin was also a non-factor, despite the high hopes the Giants placed in him. His being away from a football field for two years clearly showed. The Giants would love for them to be healthy and contribute but they are question marks until they step foot on the field.
There is a false belief that Reese selects the best player on his draft board despite need. That is not true. Reese fills needs with the best players available at those positions.
Regardless, the draft is still a couple of months away. The Giants have time to scout the market and see what prospects best fit the system, but right now I would be willing to bet defensive line or offensive line is where they will look first.