The NFL Draft starts on Thursday. Who in Utah will hear their name called in the first round? How many will be drafted at all? Let’s take a deeper look at the state’s most promising draft pick, Jordan Love.
While he did not have the most successful junior season, scouts have been impressed by Love’s abilities. He can make off-balance throws from weird angles which brings perhaps the most lofty comparison to Patrick Mahomes. He’s not Patrick Mahomes MVP level but if he gets chosen in the first round a team will take a chance on him being a solid franchise quarterback. He was great with talent around him as a sophomore so when he gets NFL receivers, watch out.
If he can focus on taking care of the football and not always about his completion percentage then he will be fine. If he needs to throw it out of bounds instead of force a throw into tight coverage, that will be better for the team even if his completion percentage stats take a hit.
Dolphins (5th and 18th picks): The Dolphins can go one of two ways. They can either pick Love at number 5 or see if he falls to 18. The latter is risky considering they need a quarterback and so do other teams in picks 5 to 18. Mel Kiper has Oregon QB Justin Herbert going at 5. I agree with this prediction, but if Herbert is somehow not available or the Dolphins decide to look for an athlete at another position, look for Miami to wait for the 18th pick to draft a QB like Love. Love is predicted to be the 4th best QB in a pool of elite QBs like Tua, Joe Burrow and Herbert but GMs might be predicting more bang for their buck in the mid to late first round with a guy like him.
Raiders (12th and 19th picks): This will be a big team for Aggie and Love fans to keep an eye on when Thursday arrives. Lots of other teams already have their franchise quarterback so the Raiders are one of a handful of teams that are shopping the QB market. At this point Tua, Herbert and Burrow will likely be off the board in a quarterback happy league. Do the Raiders get their first Jon Gruden quarterback or do they go for a different position and hope Love falls to 19?
Both the Dolphins and Raiders might be playing the same game here. The Raiders have a depleted secondary so they could go with a guy like CJ Henderson, the #2 rated cornerback in the draft. If they don’t though, look for them to secure Love and address their needs on the defensive side at #19 with an AJ Terrell, the third best cornerback in the draft out of Clemson.
Patriots (23rd pick): Bill Belichek certainly has a history with one great quarterback who was actually drafted very late. While he coached Tom Brady to 6 Super Bowls, he also got wins with backups like a young Jimmy G. If it’s the right football move, look for the Patriots to draft Love here. If not, look for him to find pieces on the offensive side of the ball to help Brian Hoyer be successful.
Saints (24th pick): If the Saints truly believe Taysom Hill is the future as reported, would they draft Love? Probably not. If Love is available and they believe he’s a better option then maybe they do make the pick here after all. It’s possible he will be off the board already but even if he’s not I think the Saints will have to sit down and really be confident in their decision for the guy to replace Drew Brees. It’s hard to replace The Guy but they can try to get as close to it as they can. Right now, they believe Hill can be a starting quarterback in the NFL. If this continues to be the case this year, New Orleans isn’t the most likely choice.
Packers (30th pick): It really would be surprising if Love fell this far but if the Raiders AND Dolphins pass on him with both first round picks then it’s possible for a late first round team to pick him up. It’s not certain how long Aaron Rodgers will stay in Green Bay but he would certainly be a great mentor for Love as a Super Bowl champion and a guy regarded as the best in the game for several years in his prime.
Colts (31st pick): Imagine Love throwing to a guy like T.Y. Hilton. When he had even decent talent his sophomore year at Utah State he led one of the highest flying offenses in the nation that averaged over 50 points per game. There’s a reason that Colts fans that have done their homework are pumped about the possibility of Love. While the Colts gave up the 13th pick to the 49ers, they still have a puncher’s chance to get Love. They could even make some trades in the draft to try to acquire him.
Final Prediction: Las Vegas Raiders. There is a team out there that made a gamble on a Mountain West quarterback that worked for a bit then fizzled out. Now Gruden has his chance to groom his own QB. We’ve seen him sit down with NFL Draft prospects before on the Gruden’s QB camp series. I can already see him grilling Love to make sure that he makes good reads. If he does that then he should avoid those costly turnovers that hurt him in his junior season at USU. Don’t expect immediate stardom, but expect to see Love learn early and gradually progress into a franchise quarterback if he can really take this job to heart. He can learn a thing or two from Mariota and Carr and fight for a starting job early.