Jordan Love To Patriots? Would New England Take Chance On Erratic QB?


Apr 20, 2020

In the two weeks leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft, will be taking a closer look at this year’s quarterback class and how each player could fit with the New England Patriots. Next up, Utah State’s Jordan Love.

Jordan Love, Utah State
6-foot-4, 224 pounds, 10 1/2-inch hands
Projected Round: First or early second
2019 Stats: 62.0 percent, 3,402 yards, 20 touchdowns, 17 interceptions, 7.2 yards per attempt
Strengths: Arm talent, size, mobility, deep passing
Weaknesses: Decision-making, anticipation, ball security, 2019 regression, lack of under-center experience
Testing numbers: 4.74-second 40-yard dash, 35 1/2-inch vertical jump, 118-inch broad jump, 7.21-second three-cone drill, 4.52-second short shuttle

Analysis: There are two questions at play here: 1) Will Love still be on the board in the second half of the first round? And 2) If he is, would the Patriots, who currently own the 23rd overall pick and have the ammunition to move up a few spots without decimating their draft board, even want him?

The phrase “boom or bust” was created for players like Love, whose final season at Utah State was equal parts Patrick Mahomes and Jameis Winston.

Love’s arm talent — the way the ball effortlessly exits his oversized hand and zips through the air — is undeniably impressive, and some of the throws he made off-platform, on the move and outside the pocket were downright Mahomesian. There’s a lot to like about the 21-year-old’s film.

There’s also a lot to hate, especially for a team like the Patriots that typically values ball security and sound decision-making above arm strength and other physical attributes.

Love threw 17 interceptions last season. He was picked off on 3.59 percent of his pass attempts. Of the 11 quarterbacks New England has drafted under Bill Belichick, only one posted a higher interception rate in his final collegiate season: Zac Robinson, a seventh-round flier in 2010 who was cut out of camp and never appeared in an NFL game.

Of the other 10, only Rohan Davey (2.72) and Ryan Mallett (2.92) even approached 3 percent. The last four Patriots QBs drafted all were below 1.6 percent.

Jarrett Stidham, fourth round, 2019: 1.36 percent (five total)
Danny Etling, seventh round, 2018: 0.73 percent (two)
Jacoby Brissett, third round, 2016: 1.52 percent (six)
Jimmy Garoppolo, second round, 2014: 1.58 percent (nine)
Ryan Mallett, third round, 2011: 2.92 percent (12)
Zac Robinson, seventh round, 2010: 3.99 percent (12)
Kevin O’Connell, third round, 2008: 1.82 percent (eight)
Matt Cassel, seventh round, 2005: N/A
Kliff Kingsbury, sixth round, 2003: 1.83 percent (13)
Rohan Davey, fourth round, 2002: 2.72 percent (10)
Tom Brady, sixth round, 2000: 2.03 percent (six)

Each year, Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio offers brief scouting reports on the team’s draft picks during a post-draft news conference. Notice the common theme in his evaluations of Stidham, Etling and Brissett:

On Stidham (April 27, 2019):

“He’s a smart player who takes care of the football with pretty good arm strength.”

On Etling (April 28, 2018):

“The one thing he didn’t do — he didn’t turn the ball over. You look at his career production, and this guy didn’t turn the ball over. I think (his touchdown-to-interception ratio) was 16-2 this year, a low percentage. He takes care of the ball, smart, pretty accurate thrower. There’s some good qualities and traits that we think we can work with and develop.”

On Brissett (April 29, 2016):

“Two-year starter in the ACC, big guy, good size, athletic, strong, did a better job of taking care of the football this year, decent touchdown-to-interception ratio.”

It’s worth noting Love was much, much better in that area in 2018 (32 touchdowns, six interceptions) and that Utah State changed offensive coordinators and lost most of its offensive starters last offseason. But those unfavorable circumstances don’t excuse such a drastic uptick in picks, most of which resulted from him staring down receivers, not seeing linebackers or exhibiting poor awareness on throws outside the numbers.

It’s possible the Patriots, who reportedly have done a lot of homework on Love during the pre-draft process, view his rough 2019 campaign as a fixable anomaly. But their history suggests they’ll steer clear of the high-risk, high-reward QB.

More potential Patriots quarterbacks: Nate Stanley, Jake Fromm, Jalen Hurts, James Morgan, Jacob Eason

More Patriots: Inside’s Latest Seven-Round Pats Mock Draft

Thumbnail photo via Chuck Cook/USA TODAY Sports Images
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