Today's game is played in front of - and behind - the linebackers. The Giants have been getting away from their base defense (4-3-4) in recent years, employing either a nickel (4-2-5) or a dime (4-1-6) package on approximately 50% of the defensive snaps. This is primarily to guard against the new age passing attacks of the league. In the team's final game of the season vs the Eagles last year, only two LBs were on the field for more than half the snaps: Chase Blackburn (73%) and Jacquian Williams (71%) - who happen to be the unit's top two pass defenders.
Granted, the game was a blowout, with the Eagles in passing mode most of the game (37 pass to 27 run plays), but that means little. When the shoe was on the other foot in Week 10 against Cincinnati, only Michael Boley (100%) and Blackburn (92%) played more than half the snaps.
That is why the team holds defensive lineman and defensive backs in higher regard than LBs on draft day. DC Perry Fewell's system doesn't emphasize the linebackers. The base defense is run less than half the time and the team believes they do not need to draft blue chip players to fill the LB roles. Instead they sign UDFAs and cheap veterans and hope for the best.
For the Giants to select a LB high in the draft, that player would have to possess the qualities of either a safety (coverage skills) or a DE (pass rushing skills). In the past few drafts, they haven't found one on the board they felt was worthy enough to select. Maybe fans have, but the what's the point of drafting a LB high if he's going to watch more than half the game from the sidelines?
Since Jerry Reese took the reins in 2007, the team has brought in eight LBs through the draft: Zak DeOssie, Bryan Kehl, Jonathan Goff, Clint Sintim, Phillip Dillard, Adrian Tracy, Greg Jones and Williams. Only Sintim was taken higher than the 4th round (2nd) and as of today, only DeOssie (The ST captain who is used as a long snapper), Williams and Tracy are still with the team. Williams is the only one playing LB. Tracy was converted to a DE and is on the roster bubble each August.