The last time the Giants drafted a linebacker within their first three picks was in 2009, when they took Clint Sintim, a 3-4 defensive end from the University of Virginia.
Unfortunately, Sintim never lived up to his second-round draft status, mainly due to injuries but also because he never really made he conversion to New York's 4-3 defense.
Since then, the Giants have shied away from drafting linebackers before the third round. Their last drafted linebackers being Greg Jones and Jacquian Williams, both in the sixth round in the 2011 draft.
Might the Giants look to replenish their depth at linebacker this year with a mid- to low-round pick? It's certainly possible.
The Current Situation
Jon Beason is an unrestricted free agent and is perhaps the top priority for the Giants as far as guys they want to re-sign.
While Beason has made no secret of his desire to work something out in order to remain a Giant—his agents have, according to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, had preliminary conversations with the Giants regarding a new deal—he told Dan Salomone of Giants.com that he’s realistic as far as his expectations go.
“I hope everything works out,” he said. “Obviously you never know what’s going to happen in the offseason. This is new for me being a free agent, but the stage is set. I want to be here.”
Strong-side starter Keith Rivers is also scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent and is unlikely to be re-signed. Rivers ended up being a two-down linebacker whose primary responsibility was to play contain against the run, a job he did well enough.
Williams, who will compete for the full-time starting weak-side linebacker job, is under contract. So too are Allen Bradford and Marcus Dowtin, two linebackers who were added to the roster after training camp.
Mark Herzlich and Spencer Paysinger are both restricted free agents. Of the two, Paysinger has likely earned a "right of first refusal" tender of $1.389 million given that he shared the starting weak-side duties last year with Williams and will probably compete for the job in 2014.
After heading into training camp last year as the starting middle linebacker following the departure of Chase Blackburn, Herzlich was unimpressive, which is partially why the Giants traded a seventh-round draft pick to Carolina in order to get Beason.
However, Herzlich performed well in his new full-time role on special teams, finishing as the team leader in tackles.
With so many needs, it might not make sense for the Giants to offer Herzlich a right of first refusal offer of $1.389 million.
However, if they do tender him at that level and he doesn’t make the team, the Giants receive full credit on that amount to their 2014.
Kasim Edebali (6’2”, 248 lbs, Boston College) is a German-born and raised college defensive end who, according to NFL Draft Scout, projects to outside linebacker in the NFL. NFL Draft Scout's Rob Rang also noted that Edebali showed an ability to anticipate the snap count during the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, an accomplishment that helped set up sacks and hurries for his teammates.
Devon Kennard (6’3”, 257 lbs, Southern California) is a versatile player who’s played both the outside and inside linebacker spots, and some defensive end. Like Rivers, he’s a solid edge defender against the run with the power to shed blocks, but he lacks foot speed.
Knowing how much the Giants tend to value versatility, I think Kennard probably makes the most sense if he’s there on Day 3.
However, I don't agree with the comparisons some scouting reports have made between Kennard and Rivers, the latter of whom was a legitimate top-10 talent when he came out of college.
All quotes and information obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. Follow me on Twitter, @Patricia_Traina.