The first round of the 2020 NFL Draft went off without a hitch. There were however several surprising selections. Perhaps none more so than the Green Bay Packers drafting quarterback Jordan Love out of Utah State. Here is what I have to say about the Packers taking Jordan Love 26th Overall.
Jordan Love was a 2-and-a-half year starter at Utah State. In both 2018 and 2019, Love completed over 60% of his passes and threw for over 3,400 yards each year. For his entire college career, Love sports a 60:29 TD:INT ratio. However, more than half of those interceptions came from last campaign. In fact, 2019 was a statistically down year after an incredible sophomore season. His completion percentage, yards, yards per attempt and touchdowns all fell from his 2018 numbers. Perhaps having gone through those struggles will aid in development. Or perhaps this regression will continue in the pros.
Looking at the tape, the one trait that truly stands out for Love is his running ability. He can be a weapon simply with his legs. That is not to say that he cannot have success throwing the football, but I believe the Packers coveted Love for his rushing upside.
Love possesses a strong enough arm to make all of the throws and is fairly accurate with his placement in all areas of the field. Even more impressive, is Love’s ability to throw on the run and maintain his accuracy. It is that particular aspect that will make him harder to defend. As he runs to the flat and there is a receiver in a 1-on-1 situation, the defender has an impossible decision to make. Stay on your man and let Love run, or go after the quarterback and leave the receiver wide open.
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For one-read options, Love is quick and decisive with his throws. In a Matt LaFleur system, there is a lot of motion used in order to get players open for quick passing plays. This would play right into Love’s strengths as a quarterback while minimizing the aspect of his game that needs to most improvement. It takes Love too long to go through a full-field progression. Even when he does check all of his reads, he is sometimes too late to see the open man. Those can still lead to completions, just not very many yards after the catch, as defenders will have time to close in on the target.
Love’s decision making, in general, comes into questions as he will at times get locked into a target and stare them down. He will also make dangerous throws in double coverage. Physically, he is ready for the NFL. However, the mental processing of information needs to get faster in order to become a successful quarterback at the next level.
The Packers gave up the 30th and 136th overall picks (their 1st, and 4th round selections respectively) in order to move up four spots to take Love. He became the fourth quarterback off the board in the 2020 NFL Draft.
In his three first seasons as Green Bay General Manager, Brian Gutekunst has shown consistency in one regard. Every NFL Draft that he has been in charge of, he has traded in the first round. Two seasons ago, it was a trade back that netted Green Bay Jaire Alexander an extra pick in 2019. The following year, Gutekunst, then used that pick they acquired to trade up and select Darnell Savage. Finally, he traded up again, this time to get Jordan Love.
If there is one pattern to be discerned, it is that Gutekunst will be aggressive with players he believes can help contribute immediately. Does that mean that Aaron Rodgers is being replaced sooner rather than later? Not necessarily. I believe that there is a plan to incorporate Love into the offense during 2020. Not to remove Rodgers from the game, but as a weapon for the current signal-caller. Perhaps this is overly optimistic, but I believe we will see Love play alongside Rodgers this upcoming season. Think of how Taysom Hill is utilized with the Saints.
With this pick, Matt LaFleur gets an exciting offensive weapon that can be used as a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. The type of plays open to the Packers with two quarterbacks on the field would certainly make for a daunting task for opponents to dissect. At the very least, Love could potentially be the long-term replacement for one of the greatest passers football has ever witnessed. If Green Bay can get any production out of him while Rodgers still around, all the better.
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