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Giant question: To Te'o or not?

1/18/2013

As Manti Te'o emerged as one of the best players in college football last season, I started hearing from fans who wanted to see Te'o in a Giants uniform next season.

The majority of fans I hear from constantly want the Giants to draft a stud linebacker in the first round, and Te'o is one of the best after finishing second in the Heisman race.

But what I want to know now is how fans feel about Te'o after the crazy story of the girlfriend hoax exploded this week. It's something our friend Dan Graziano explores over at the NFC East blog.

Linebacker is an area in which the Giants can improve. I don't believe it's as much a priority as offensive line, defensive line and cornerback are, though.

But Chase Blackburn is one of the Giants' unrestricted free agents. Keith Rivers is also an unrestricted free agent. And Michael Boley, who is entering the final year of his deal worth a base salary of $4.25 million, saw his snaps drastically reduced toward the end of the season.

The Giants still have young linebackers like Jacquian Williams, Mark Herzlich and Spencer Paysinger, while Mathias Kiwanuka and Adrian Tracy can play dual linebacker/defensive end hybrid roles.

Te'o would be a young prospect who certainly appeared to be a presence as a leader on the field for Notre Dame during the season. How his talent and athleticism project at the pro level remains to be seen. Teams will do extensive research on Te'o's character and personality. And will he even be available when the Giants draft with the 19th pick?

We know the Giants rarely spend first-round picks on linebackers. The franchise typically steers clear of controversy, and Te'o would come with a major distraction right from the start.

So let's hear it: Do you think the Giants should consider Te'o if he is there at No. 19?