Report: Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o Visits with New York Giants

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Report: Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o Visits with New York Giants
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With the No. 19 pick in the 2013 NFL draft, the New York Giants select...Manti Te'o?

Don't be shocked if you hear commissioner Roger Goodell utter those words when the Giants select at No. 19 in the first round of the NFL draft on April 25.

Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News reports that the Notre Dame linebacker visited the Giants on Thursday. Te'o has also met with the Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings.

And Eric Hansen, the Notre Dame Insider for the South Bend Tribune, reports that he's scheduled to meet with the San Diego Chargers (who pick seventh) on Monday.

The Giants' potential interest in Te'o comes as a surprise to many within (and outside of) the organization. Generally known for class and their ability to stay away from negative media (except for Plaxico Burress, of course), the Giants were initially thought to be wary of Te'o and the media attention he would attract.

Not only did he perform poorly at the NFL combine and in the NCAA Championship Game, but Te'o's off-field exploits have drawn exorbitant amounts of attention. There's no way Tom Coughlin will allow a rookie to come in and attract that type of negative attention, so I'm personally interested to see how this situation plays out if the Giants in fact draft him.

Al Bello/Getty Images

Coughlin has personally stated that he is not a fan of Te'o's on-field game, but he did concede that he needs to take a look at some more film (via the New York Daily News):

Just strictly football, strictly evaluating -- I don’t really know the player other than looking at him on tape. We didn’t interview him in Indianapolis. But he didn’t play well in the national championship game.

Now anybody can have a bad game. He ran OK (at the combine), but it wasn’t great. So I’ll have to do more research on him. But at this point in time you’re asking me would I be surprised (if he’s available at 19)? No.

Despite Coughlin's negative (or uninformed) perception of Te'o, general manager Jerry Reese has maintained that he will not rule him out (via ESPN.com):

We’re more interested in what kind of football player he is than anything else. These things, I think they get blown out of proportion a little bit. But we’ll investigate it, and we’ll see how it goes.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Carl Banks

Reese took linebacker Clint Sintim in the second round back in 2009, though that's the highest pick he's ever used on a linebacker as the general manager of the Giants. The last time the franchise took a linebacker in the first round was back in 1984, when they took Carl Banks with the No. 3 overall pick. Banks went on to play with Big Blue from 1984 to 1992 and was a member of two Super Bowl-winning teams.

There's certainly a need at linebacker for the Giants. Chase Blackburn departed via free agency (he signed with the Carolina Panthers), and New York has no intention of bringing back Michael Boley (the team released him in February).

Dan Connor was signed, but the veteran cannot be relied upon to fill the void left by both Blackburn and Boley. The Giants could look to in-house depth like Mark Herzlich or Spencer Paysinger, but there are likely better guys out there in the draft and on the free-agent market.

The Giants have options entering the draft, and that's always a good spot to be in. Whether or not the Giants take Te'o remains to be seen, but there's most certainly a need at the position.

The trick is evaluating if Te'o is the right man for the job. We'll see on April 25. 

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