The 2020 NFL Draft is scheduled to begin in roughly one month and Los Angeles Chargers fans are busy discussing who the team should take with the sixth overall pick. Should it be a quarterback? An offensive tackle? A linebacker?
One draft prospect who has generated a lot of buzz among Chargers fans who favor a quarterback is former Utah State Aggie quarterback Jordan Love. Many believe he should be the pick at #6, and others have gone so far as to say Love is the best quarterback in this class.
Let me start this by saying Jordan Love is not the best quarterback in this class. Not by a long shot. I’m not even convinced he’s the third best quarterback in this class. Is he interesting? Sure. Does he have some enticing physical talents? Absolutely. But I’m not sure I agree with the notion that he has the highest ceiling in this class, and I definitely want no part of him at #6. Frankly, I’m not even sure I’d take him in the first round.
With the sixth pick in Lockdown Coverage’s LIVE 2020 NFL Mock Draft, @Syntari13 selects Jordan Love, QB, Utah State for the Los Angeles Chargers.— Lockdown Coverage (@LDCoverage) March 22, 2020
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Let’s take a look at Jordan Love as a prospect:
Love has the frame (6’4”, 224 pounds) scouts love in quarterbacks, which he couples with one of the two strongest arms in this class (Justin Herbert). He’s also extremely athletic and capable of throwing the ball accurately on the run from multiple platforms. He can extend and create with his legs and is arguably at his best when things break down around him. He is a playmaker and he is fun to watch.
If I had to pick one trait, or skill, that sets Love apart from the rest of the class, it’s his arm talent. His ability to throw with touch and fit the ball into tight windows is impressive, to say the least. His ball placement is somewhat erratic, but the arm strength and ability to layer throws definitely shows up on film. While it’s what makes him fun to watch, it’s also what is leading people to unfairly compare him to Patrick Mahomes, which is ultimately skewing evaluations.
Where the evaluation starts to go sideways, at least for me, is his decision-making. What I saw was a junior quarterback who, quite frankly, never diagnosed zone coverages. I thought defenses adjusted to what he did in 2018 by dropping linebackers into intermediate and deep zones in anticipation of Love’s desire to attack the middle of the field. Unfortunately, Love never made any adjustments to counter the defensive adjustments made by the opposition.
The result? Interceptions. Lots and lots of interceptions thrown into crowds of defenders.
Jordan Love’s supporters will be quick to tell you he struggled in 2019 due to a lack of talent. While it’s true that Love wasn’t blessed with the multitude of weapons that Tua Tagovailoa or Joe Burrows had, he did have Saiosi Mariner post 63/987/10 as a graduate transfer and three other receivers post 35+ receptions for 430+ yards. That trio included Jordan Nathan, who saw his receptions, yards and yards per catch double from 2018 to 2019. He had people to throw to.
It’s a cop-out to blame his interceptions on a lack of talent.
In my opinion, Jordan Love’s film tells the story of a quarterback who simply didn’t see the field well in 2019. The junior quarterback failed to diagnose zone coverages, stared down receivers, held the ball too long, and forced the ball into crowds of defenders. He also struggled with timing and appeared to try to out-throw coverages at times.
As a three-year starter, Jordan should be more advanced with his reads – pre-snap, or otherwise. He shouldn’t be missing zone coverages on a regular basis, and he should definitely be past the point of holding the ball and trying to out-throw coverages. The fact that Love still struggles with these things suggests he probably wasn’t asked to decipher coverages or get through more than a couple progressions, and that just means more work for the team that drafts him.
There were two reads/throws in particular that consistently gave him issues in 2019. The first was failing to read or anticipate zone coverages. He repeatedly made this mistake on film, with the end result being turnovers. The second was a tendency to aim and telegraph balls when throwing intermediate and deep outs, rather than driving them home. He threw several picks on these throws, as well.
The issue with deep outs is more of an execution issue in my eyes, and one that can be fixed with improved timing and anticipation. The issue with zone coverages is a bigger problem because it should be a basic read for any quarterback, and yet he failed to make the adjustment. Love is predictable in his tendencies and either didn’t identify coverages at the line, didn’t see the defenders dropping into his passing windows, or just ignored them.
While all young quarterbacks are something of a project, I think Jordan Love is more of a project than some care to admit. Whether they’re trying to be different, are placing a little too much emphasis on his arm strength, or just aren’t seeing the diagnostic issues; there is much work to be done there. That’s why I don’t see Jordan Love as a viable option with the sixth overall pick in the 2020 Draft.
I’d much rather see the Chargers, who just finished rebuilding the right side of their offensive line, make an aggressive play for the Lions third overall pick to select a certain left-handed quarterback, but that’s another article for another day…