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Is there any fire to Giants, Justin Herbert 2020 NFL Draft rumors smoke?

Justin Herbert. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

The New York Giants don’t want to seem too predictable as Thursday’s first round of the 2020 NFL Draft approaches. 

While they’ve been linked to offensive linemen or Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons with the No. 4 pick in the draft, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network threw a hypothetical wrench into those plans. 

“The Giants have spent a lot of time researching Oregon QB Justin Herbert, a process that’s included FaceTime conversations with coach Joe Judge,” Rapoport wrote. “NYG has been exhaustive in its draft prep at No. 4.”

Such interest is puzzling at the surface for a Giants team that spent its No. 6 pick last season on Duke passer Daniel Jones, who showed promising flashes in his rookie year last season when partaking in the insurmountable task of replacing franchise legend Eli Manning. 

While he went 3-9 in 12 starts, Jones completed 61.9% of his passes for 3,027 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. 

But with Pat Shurmur now out as head coach — who played a prevalent role alongside GM Dave Gettleman in getting the rookie under center last year — new leading man Joe Judge might be doing his due diligence on drafting a quarterback that is “his guy.”

There was a time following the 2018 season when Herbert was the top-rated quarterback expected to be available for the 2019 draft. It got to a point that the Giants were linked to taking the Oregon product before Herbert decided to return for one more collegiate season. 

It prompted the Giants to pick Jones — a surprising pick at No. 6 when many believed he would have been available when New York picked again at No. 17. 

The extra year was the right call for Herbert, who passed for 3,471 yards and 32 touchdowns with just six interceptions in 14 games, leading Oregon to a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin. 

But would the Giants actually draft another quarterback just one season after spending a top-six pick on a passer who showed promise in his first season? 

It seems unlikely given the team’s overwhelming needs elsewhere on the roster. 

A possible, likely avenue the Giants are taking with this reported Herbert interest is building apprehension from true quarterback-needy teams picking behind them in the draft. 

While Joe Burrow is slated to go No. 1 to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Miami Dolphins at No. 5 and Los Angeles Chargers at No. 6 are expected to pick a passer. 

While Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa was the consensus pick of the Dolphins for months now, Herbert has picked up momentum to take over in Miami. 

Any inclination that the Giants could snag Herbert from either the Dolphins or Chargers could see trade talks instigated, allowing New York to pick up an extra draft pick or two to move down a few spots.

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