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NFL Draft rumors: Giants “researching” QB Justin Herbert — What does that mean?

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It’s probably just gamesmanship ... but it certainly is interesting

Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual - Oregon v Wisconsin
Justin Herbert
Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

What should we make of the report that the New Giants “have spent a lot of time” researching and holding FaceTime conversations with Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert in the run-up to the 2020 NFL Draft, which begins Thursday?

While GM Dave Gettleman always says he is not afraid to drafting over an incumbent starter at any position It seems highly unlikely that the Giants, a year after taking Daniel Jones No. 6 overall, would take Herbert at No. 4.

There is this, though, to consider. There was some thought a year ago that Herbert was Gettleman’s QB1 before he returned to Oregon. Gettleman has said it was former coach Pat Shurmur who was first to really fall for Jones.

We also live in a world where new head coach Joe Judge has yet to say Jones’ name — or the name of a single player on the Giants’ roster.

What this is probably about is leverage.

Gettleman said at the Combine that the Giants were “open for business” with the fourth pick, meaning they were willing to explore moving down for additional picks. During his recent pre-draft press conference, he added that he “would very seriously entertain” offers for the No. 4.

In seven drafts as a GM trading down is something he has never done. With a cluster of offensive tackles and a couple of defensive players who could all be potential picks for the Giants in the top 10, and no picks from Nos. 36-99 in a draft said to be full of talent among the top 100 or so players trading down from No. 4 has to be a viable option should a quality deal present itself.

If it is accurate that Gettleman was enamored with Herbert in 2019, other teams likely know that. Could this simply be the Giants using that in an effort to entice the LA Chargers or another team hoping to land Herbert to move up to No. 4?

That seems like the logical explanation.