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Justin Herbert’s Draft Decision: Will He Stay or Will He Go?

The Oregon quarterback is considered the best draft-eligible QB of 2019, but scouts and agents still don’t know if he’ll make the leap to the NFL.

Oregon’s football program signed 22 recruits on Wednesday, the first day of college football’s early signing period. None of them are anywhere near the draft radar, but one is of great interest to the NFL: four-star tight end Patrick Herbert. He’s the younger brother of Justin Herbert, Oregon’s starting quarterback and the consensus top draft-eligible quarterback for 2019.

I’ve heard from several scouts across the league that there’s a real possibility the elder Herbert, who still has one year of eligibility remaining at Oregon, will stay in school for the chance to play with his brother. The Herberts are homegrown Eugene kids and grew up in a family of devoted Ducks fans.

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Several agents say they’ve heard the same thing, and that Herbert has yet to make up his mind on what he’ll do after this season. He’s likely wait until after Oregon’s bowl game—the Red Box Bowl on New Year’s Eve—to announce his decision, but it’s peculiar that none of the agents or scouts polled for this story had a good read on what Herbert will do. (Oregon did not respond to a request for comment.) One agent says it’s possible the scenario of Justin staying to play with Patrick was put out as a way to limit questions and draft-related distractions while he makes his decision.

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Only one of the 2019 underclassmen quarterbacks has made an official decision: Auburn junior Jarrett Stidham declared for the draft. There’s no word yet from Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, who would have the best chance to unseat Herbert as the top quarterback off the board. Both Haskins and Michigan junior Shea Patterson are expected to declare for the draft. Duke junior Daniel Jones has been getting buzz this season and will graduate early, which could help him make his decision.

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The rest of the quarterback class of 2019 is taking shape with the seniors. West Virginia quarterback Will Grier made headlines when he announced he would skip the Mountaineers’ bowl game to focus on preparing for the draft, becoming the first quarterback from a major program to skip a bowl game for the draft. Grier has accepted his invitation to the Senior Bowl, along with Missouri’s Drew Lock, Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson, NC State’s Ryan Finley, Penn State’s Trace McSorley, Washington State’s Gardnew Minshew II and Stidham.

If Herbert waits for the 2020 draft, he’d be fighting for draft position in a much stronger QB class, likely to be headlined by Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Georgia’s Jake Fromm. Scouts and agents are watching closely for Herbert’s decision as the Jan. 14 deadline for underclassmen to declare draws near.

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