Coming out of Notre Dame in 2019, defensive back Julian Love was one of the most pro-ready prospects in the NFL Draft. Many believed Love could step in and contribute immediately, either as a safety or working out of the slot.
Love has always had fairly high expectations, so that was nothing new. Coming out of Nazareth Academy in 2015, Love was a two-way star before attending Notre Dame. After his senior season in 2018, Love was named a Consensus All-American.
At the 2019 NFL Combine, Love tested as an above-average athlete, posting a 4.54 40-yard dash and 14 reps on the bench press. Love’s 6.72 three-cone was a significant number; however, that showed off an exceptional change of direction.
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Love would go on to be selected by the Giants in the fourth round of the NFL Draft with the 108th overall pick, considerably later than many draft analysts expected him to get drafted.
Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale will be Love’s second defensive coordinator of his NFL career after Patrick Graham went to the Raiders this past offseason. With Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan no longer in the picture, Love looks like he could be in line for his role on the defense.
What He Offers
When Love entered the 2019 NFL Draft, he was one of the few players to be graded specifically as a slot defender, something becoming increasingly common in evaluating college prospects.
Love is one of the most versatile defensive backs on the Giants roster right now, playing significant snaps in the box, as a deep safety, and as a slot defender in 2021. Most of Love’s snaps came in the nickel, but deep safety was a close second home for him.
The 2021 season was arguably Love’s worst year in coverage as he was targeted 45 times and allowed completions on 33 of those attempts for 352 yards, three touchdowns, with one interception.
Love has become increasingly more lethal as a tackler as he’s gotten further into his NFL career. As a rookie in 2019, Love had 35 tackles and five missed tackles. In both 2020 and 2021, Love had 58 tackles but he had four missed tackles in 2020 and just three missed tackles in 2021.
On special teams, Love has been a contributor in every facet except for as a blocker on field goal and extra point attempts.
Fun fact: Julian Love has three interceptions in his NFL career, all three of them came against quarterbacks drafted in 2018 (two against Mitchell Trubisky and one against Patrick Mahomes).
Love is in the final year of his rookie deal, a four-year contract worth $3,290,860 with $770,860 in fully guaranteed money. In 2022, he will earn $2,732,715 (his base salary boosed thanks to him qualfying for a proven performance bonus). that amount will account for 1.32% of the Giants salary cap. Should the Giants decide to release Love, they would clear up $2.54 million and eat a dead cap penalty of $192,715.
The upcoming season will likely be the biggest season of Julian Love’s career because he's projected to move into the starting lineup and see a significant uptick in snaps. In 2021, Love played more snaps in the slot than he played any other position, but 2022 is expected to see him play more of a safety role, teaming up with Xavier McKinney.
The lack of capital spent on the safety position this past offseason indicates that head coach Brian Daboll and Martindale are at least willing to give Love the opportunity to be a starting safety in 2022, at least until drft pick Dane Belton is ready for a bigger role.
Love, who is playing for his next contract, is almost definitely going to be on the Giants roster in 2022, given his experience, contract, and proven ability to contribute with a variety of responsibilities.