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Which linebackers could fit the Giants on each day of the draft?

If the Giants draft a linebacker, who could fit in each phase of the draft?

LSU v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

New York Giants fans are starved for the addition of an impact linebacker. We don’t need to go over how long it’s been since they’ve drafted a linebacker in the first round — but suffice to say, a significant portion of the fanbase hadn’t even been born yet.

The 2017 NFL Draft is a deep one at many positions, but there aren’t many natural 4-3 linebackers. That isn’t to say, however, that there aren’t any. If the Giants consciously want to add a linebacker (but not force the pick), they should be able to find a player who fits in every phase of the draft.

Need - Linebacker

Day 1 - Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt

Cunningham has become a popular pick for the Giants when all the more popular (or more exciting) prospects are off the board. An off-ball linebacker, Cunningham isn’t going to garner as much attention as his pass rushing peers, which makes it more likely that he will be there when the Giants pick at 23rd overall.

He fits the Giants’ physical preference of a long defender with adequate size and good athleticism. He is also versatile enough to play outside or inside (though I believe he is a more natural fit outside), and is dependable in coverage and shows no hesitation coming down hill in the run game. His tackling leaves something to be desired, but so does that of many other defenders coming out. Cunningham would give the Giants a potentially dynamic linebacker who would never have to come off the field.

Day 2 - Duke Riley, LSU

Adding more speed to the Giants’ linebacking corps should be a priority. Riley is one of the, if not the, most athletic true linebackers in the class. He has good straight line speed combined with very good short area quickness. He is bit undersized, but has adequate length and plays bigger than he measures.

Riley is a natural 4-3 WILL linebacker, and looks completely at home in space. He can stick in man coverage or capably patrol zones, while also flashing down hill to make plays in the run game. He also has upside as a blitzer, bringing speed to linebaker blitzes off the edge or through the A-gaps.

He was also a special teams contributor before breaking onto the field as a starting defender for the Tigers. He only has one year of starting experience, but showed improvement throughout that year. He could sit behind Jonathan Casillas, contribute in sub-packages and special teams, and be a starter in his second year.

Day 3 - Matt Milano, Boston College

By the third day of the draft you are looking for players who will contribute to your team. You can’t look to fill needs or find top-end talent. Simply finding players who can contribute and hopefully develop into something more is a “Hit” by the time we get to the final three rounds of the draft.

Milano is a smart, instinctive, and aggressive linebacker for a good Boston College college defense. He is solid in coverage and a good tackler, but seems to relish going downhill and attacking the offense. Like former Giants draftee Greg Jones, Milano has a talent for blitzing and more than a fifth of his tackles were for a loss. He is a bit undersized, but has adequate speed and quickness, and he could be a core special teamer with the upside to contribute on defense in sub-packages.