GREEN BAY, Wis. – In a tradition that stretches more than a decade, here is our annual ranking of the 90 players on the Green Bay Packers’ roster. This isn’t merely a look at the best players. Rather, it’s a formula that combines talent, salary, importance of the position, depth at the position and, for young players, draft positioning. More than the ranking, we hope you learn a little something about every player on the roster.
No. 21: QB Jordan Love (6-4, 219, rookie, Utah State)
Love might not play a single snap this season. That’s an obvious statement considering Aaron Rodgers is the starting quarterback. But, without the benefit of the offseason to really sink his teeth into the offense, it’s going to be a challenge for Love to even beat out Tim Boyle for the No. 2 job.
“I think anytime with a young quarterback, there’s so much to learn,” coach Matt LaFleur said on the “Wilde & Tausch” show on ESPN Wisconsin in May. “Obviously, you’d love to have him in the building so you can put him through the proper fundamentals, because I think when you look at the quarterback position – and all positions, really, for that matter – it all starts with the fundamentals. So, we have got to try to show him as many good examples of what it looks like, because the challenge is he’s going out on his own and working those different techniques and fundamentals but you’re not there to be able to correct him or show him the right way. So, we’ve got to present as much to him so he can get that good visual so that he can go out there and replicate that.”
Nonetheless, there are 12,383,453 reasons why Love is incredibly important to the franchise. Those are the dollars of his four-year contract – and they’re all guaranteed. The Packers bucked precedent with that contract. The 26th pick of the draft had never been given a fully guaranteed contract.
There’s little doubt general manager Brian Gutekunst’s fate in Green Bay will be tied to the fate of Love. If Love is great and the Packers keep winning, Gutekunst will have a long and successful tenure as GM. If Love falls on his face, and that would hardly make him unique among quarterbacks taken at his position in the draft (see accompanying video, the ax will fall on Gutekunst.
That wasn’t the only reason why it was a huge role of the dice. As a junior at Utah State last season, Love chucked 17 interceptions. That figure stands in stark contrast to the man he will be expected to eventually replace. Rodgers owns the lowest interception percentage in NFL history. In 34 starts the last three seasons, Rodgers threw 15 interceptions.
Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy, however, downplayed that number in saying Love could cement the Packers as contenders through 2040.
“He’s not a bad decision-maker,” Nagy told Packer Central after the draft. “That was one of my biggest pet peeves in the draft process was people calling that kid a bad decision-maker. He’s not. He’s a kid that’s played with nobody around him and he was competitive and he was trying to win football games. Did he force throws? Absolutely. Did he have to force throws? Absolutely. You didn’t see bad decision-making on ’18 tape, when he threw 32 touchdowns and six picks. You never heard those numbers brought up the whole process. All you heard was 20 touchdowns, 17 picks. Like, nobody ever went back and talked about ’18.”
Added a scout from a team in the quarterback market this offseason who scouted Love extensively: “The year before, he had a great year. This year, he struggled with a coaching change and they lost a lot of players, as well, so the production dipped and the decision-making struggled a little bit. He didn’t really have a signature win for the program. He’s a good player. He’s a really good player. The production dipped because of the change but it was weird that Green Bay felt compelled enough to take him that high. They must have thought very highly of him.”
Whatever happens, it was a bold move by the Packers, who have set themselves up for a redux of the ugly divorce with Brett Favre in 2008. Maybe Rodgers will recapture his MVP groove and Love will be relegated to being the league’s highest-paid backup. More likely is, at some point – perhaps 2022 – Gutekunst will decide to hand the keys to the franchise to the young guy and part ways with one of the great quarterbacks in NFL history.
“Like everybody else, I was at home but Brian and Matt and Russ (Ball) and I had been in touch prior to the draft and knew there was a good possibility that if Jordan was available that we would either take him or move up to draft him,” Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said this week. “I give Brian all kinds of credit. Obviously, the easy thing would have been to take a wide receiver or another position of need but he was looking at it from the long-term perspective of the organization. I give him a lot of credit, particularly for having the courage of his convictions.”
Why he’s got a chance: Love has everything a quarterback needs to succeed, from arm to intelligence to leadership. “I’m a playmaker,” he said upon getting drafted. “I’m always ready to make plays, whatever’s needed. I have a really good arm, I’d say; a lot of confidence in that and a lot of confidence in my abilities to make plays as a quarterback. I’m going to come in here and work, continue to get better and improve my game.”