Top Quarterbacks in NFL Draft: Jordan Love

Bill Huber

Utah State’s Jordan Love checks in at No. 4 in our ranking of the top quarterbacks in the NFL Draft.

Quarterbacks are defined by numbers.

LSU’s Joe Burrow set a national record with 60 touchdown passes in 2019. Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa’s career passer efficiency of 199.4 is the best in NCAA history. Oregon’s Justin Herbert threw for more than 10,000 yards in his career.

How about Utah State’s Jordan Love, who potentially will join those three as a first-round pick? Well, he threw 17 interceptions. After throwing 32 touchdowns vs. six interceptions during a brilliant 2018, Love regressed horribly with just three more touchdowns than interceptions in 2019.

“The biggest difference for me was obviously the turnovers,” Love said at the Scouting Combine. “I was trying to do too much and force the ball downfield, thinking I could make throws into tight windows. There were situations where I could have checked the ball down, but I was trying to make that play.”

That style of play isn’t going to cut it in the NFL. Throw in another five fumbles, and Love gave away the football almost twice a game. It’s hard to win games when you’re forfeiting two of your team’s dozen possessions.

“(It’s) 17 learning moments,” Love said. “Things I learned from – you’ve got to go back and break it down and see why I made those mistakes. Some I have to learn from, and I can’t keep letting it happen, and that’s what I tell teams right there. They play the game, so they know. You’ve got to learn from your mistakes.”

Love had quite a growth sport from his days at Liberty High School in Bakersfield, Calif. He went from 5-foot-6 and 140 pounds to 220 pounds by his freshman year at Utah State. The growth spurt happened a bit too late for recruiters to pay much attention, though. He didn’t receive a single scholarship offer from a Power 5 school.

That wasn’t Love’s only obstacle on his path to the draft. When Love was 14, his father – a police officer in Bakersfield, Calif. – committed suicide.

“My darkest moment was definitely the day it happened, just hearing about it right there in the car,” Love told NFL.com. “I didn't want to believe it. …

“If you knew him, he was the happiest dude you would ever see. He was always smiling. Even if things in his life got him down, he never showed that. Our family knew it was the medication messing with his head, not acting like himself, not acting right. If people make assumptions about depression that aren’t right, there’s nothing that can be done about that. It’s good enough for me to know it was the medication. As long as I know, I’m good with it.”

What we like

Love’s arm talent is special. He can make all the throws from all the angles. Sometimes, it gets him in trouble but sometimes it wins games. He ranked seventh in the nation in big-time throws, which Pro Football Focus defines as a throw is on the highest end of both difficulty and value.

“That’s something I feel is a huge part of my game,” Love said of his ability to make a play. “When the play breaks down, being able to make off-schedule plays and get out of the pocket, throwing on the move, and being able to take off and run. That’s just an instinct from growing up and playing backyard football. You either have it or you don’t, and I feel that I have that playmaking ability.”

Moreover, with a 4.74 clocking in the 40 at 6-foot-4 and 224 pounds, Love adds a running element. He averaged 4.7 yards per rush in his career. His 10.5-inch hands could come in handy on a rainy or frigid day.

What we don’t like

Love’s arm talent gets him in trouble. While he was seventh in big-time throws, he was 105th in turnover-worthy plays. For reference, there are only 130 teams in FBS. Sometimes, it’s a bad decision. Sometimes, it’s trying to make something out of nothing. Sometimes, it’s shoddy footwork and being overly reliant on his arm. His passer rating when under pressure was a hideous 43.6 in 2019 and 53.7 for his career. 

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