On a wonderful April night in 2020, the NFL draft took place and shocked the world. Not only was it a whirlwind of a draft but some picks more than others left impressions on fans. Packers fans remember this night all too well. The Green Bay Packers traded their 30th and 136th overall picks to the Dolphins for the 26th overall selection.
Let’s face it, there were about 12 different options that fans had predicted before Jordan Love. Once the call came in that the Packers had moved up in the draft, fans became excited as they hoped the Packers would land a receiver for Rodgers or a talented lineman. As everyone watching the draft learned the Packers drafted Quarterback Jordan Love, most were left scratching their heads.
It may have not made sense, and it may still not make sense for some. But, enough time has passed and the dust has settled. Has Jordan Love proved himself to be the most valuable player to pick at 26? Has he proved himself as an NFL Quarterback?
Love’s Tough Road
Football players are human, they have ears and eyes and they can see and read everything being said about them. There is no doubt Jordan Love heard the boos and saw all the criticism surrouding him being drafted to a team with a perennial MVP candidate starting ahead of him. Jordan Love felt the exact same thing going into the draft after he had 20 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in his final college season at Utah State. The year before, he had 32 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.
He clearly didn’t have a good year, but he also had lost multiple receivers to the draft and went through two full staff changes at Utah State. He never had any continuity or enough time to develop a relationship with his coaches.
Perhaps one of the most difficult parts of Love being drafted 26th overall is that he was picked over stronger needs. The Packers have long drafted replacements ahead of time to give them a chance to learn. Aaron Rodgers was drafted to be Brett Favre’s apprentice and it clearly worked out well. Now, Rodgers is here to help give Love the direction he needs. The issue with him being drafted at 26 is that the Packers could’ve selected positions that needed help faster. At receiver, if the Packers didn’t trade up they could’ve selected Tee Higgins, Michael Pittman Jr, KJ Hamler, or Chase Claypool to name a few.
If the Packers wanted to look at other positions, Yetur Gross-Matos, Robert Hunt, or Marlon Davidson would’ve been valuable picks as well. However, the reality is that 2020 is said and done. But, has Jordan Love proved he is better than the other players available?
Packers Prioritize Development
Love has always had a difficult road because he has to coach himself or rely on multiple different opinions to merge into one solution. With enough time and stability, he can develop into an NFL-ready Quarterback. The Packers clearly saw this and built a veteran group around him for development. The team understands that Love is a raw prospect who didn’t have the same people watching over him year after year. Different coaches, different opinions, and in the end, different results each season he played.
Love showed real development in 2018 after he passed for 3500 plus yards and 30 touchdowns. In 2019 he took a complete U-turn after he lost his old coaching staff, whom he only spent a year with. The Packers have seen that this was an issue and tackled it.
The Correct Mentor for Love
As Christian Watson recently said regarding Aaron Rodgers, “He’s not going to treat us like rookies because we are going to have to play like vets if we want to be successful.” Watson understands that Rodgers needs everyone to develop physically and mentally to win games. It’s no question that Rodgers has certainly done this to Love since he has been on his hip for two years now, and it’s clear he is rubbing off on him after some recent plays by Love.
— Kyle Malzhan (@KyleMalzhan) August 20, 2022
With Rodgers guidance and stability around him, there’s no reason Love won’t be a top level starter. What most forget is that Love has played about as well as any Quarterback with the same amount of snaps as him. He hasn’t had a ton of experience yet but the flashes and plays he makes shows he has the capability.
It’ll be interesting once Love has his chance to take over the team. Until then, it is important to value what he can do long term for the Packers instead of looking back on what could’ve happened.