The Miami Dolphins completed a prospect visit with Utah State quarterback Jordan Love on Friday, just before the NFL banned further prospect visits and workouts due to the coronavirus outbreak. Miami rushed Love into their facilities to get a closer look at a player who, according to a report from the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, has differing draft grades from people within the organization, with “some viewing him as a mid-to-late first-rounder and others as a second-rounder.”
Who is Love? Since there are likely to be very few, if any, prospect visits this year, we take a look at one of the Dolphins’ (likely) only worked out prospects.
Love, who will turn 22 mid-season this year, spent four years at Utah State, taking over as the starter during his redshirt freshman season in 2017. Appearing in 38 games over three season, Love threw for 8,600 yards on a 61.2 percent completion rate, with 60 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. His 2019 season, however, was below his breakout 2018 year, highlighted by a 20-17 touchdown to interception ratio last year compared to a 32-6 ratio as a sophomore. Utah State changed coaches heading into 2019 while the talent surrounding Love was seen as lesser than what he had in 2018. Is that enough to justify a fall off in his production?
At the NFL Scouting Combine, Love was 6-foot-4, 224 pounds, with 32-5/8 inch arms, and 10-1/2 inch hands. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.74 seconds (seventh among quarterbacks), the 3-cone drill in 7.21 seconds (sixth), and the 20-yard shuttle in 4.52 seconds (ninth). He had a 35-1/2 in vertical jump (second) and a 118 inch broad jump (first).
NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein profiled Love, stating, “Challenging evaluation for quarterback-needy teams balancing traits and potential against disappointing 2019 tape. Staff turnover and new starters across the offense are partly to blame for his regression, but self-made flaws in process were also concerns. Love’s accuracy took a step back, and his delayed reaction from “see it” to “throw it” when making reads is troubling. He has the arm to stick throws into tight windows but needs better eye discipline and anticipation to keep windows open. His size, mobility and arm talent combined with his 2018 flashes could be a winning hand that leads a team into the future or a siren’s song of erratic play and unfulfilled potential.”
At The Draft Network, Joe Marino writes of Love, “Jordan Love isn’t without his warts but he possesses a high-level physical skill set and peaks on tape that reveal the ceiling of a potential dynamic NFL starting quarterback. His arm talent and mobility is perfect for the trends of today’s NFL and there is no limitations to what he can do on the field. The full playbook is open for Love and then some. With that said, he does need to make notable strides in several key areas including decision-making, timing and accuracy to achieve his ceiling. An early investment in Love is a bet on yourself to be able to develop his overall game but his upside is worth the calculated risk.”
Also from The Draft Network, Kyle Crabbs write of Love, “Jordan Love has franchise quarterback qualities and should be regarded as a prospect with a Pro Bowl ceiling. Love’s statistical regression in 2019 isn’t indicative of a regression in skills or decision making — was a victim of poor supporting cast in many instances. Love will need patience and must go to a team with coaching staff able to nurture, develop and cater passing schemes to where he thrives. He isn’t plug and play but he’s a potential game changing QB.”
Finally, a third The Draft Network report on Love comes from Jordan Reid, who writes, “Opinions about Love will remain mixed, but there’s no doubting his arm talent and other traits that are already present. Of any prospect in this draft, no career none other than Love’s will be more dependent on their landing spot. His production fell off of a cliff following the 2018 season, but there will be some teams that feel as if that was his true form and that they could eventually help him return to it. Firmly believing that Love will eventually become a top-15 selection, he will need at least a year to sit behind a well-established veteran before he’s ready to take on a role as a full-time starter. His decision making and footwork need refinement and that time as an understudy will help him. If shown the right amounts of patience also while nurturing him along the way, a team could turn him into a high-end starting QB that turns into a face of the franchise type of player.”
Reid’s assessment of Love needing a year to sit behind an established veteran starter could be exactly what would happen in Miami, where Ryan Fitzpatrick is expected to hold on to the top spot on the depth chart in 2020. Fitzpatrick again helming the offense could give head coach Brian Flores and his staff a chance to develop Love without having the pressure of being thrust into the lineup before he is ready.
At Pro Football Focus, Anthony Treash wrote in December that there is some “buyer beware” concerns when drafting Love. He explained, “Love’s 2019 season was full of plays in which he tried to be superman and lofted some horrendous passes. The more concerning part of his play is that his absolute worst throws were against average competition. After his good performance on national television in the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl against Kent State, who owns the 113th-ranked defense in PFF’s Massey rankings, fans were ready to call Love the quarterback of their team’s future. Watching him at Utah State in 2019, it’s pretty evident that Love has great zip on the ball. As indicated earlier, Love hits his open receivers perfectly with a rocket or a feathery drop in the bucket. That and his athletic frame is a large reason why he’ll likely be among the first five quarterbacks taken in the draft. Other than Love’s ‘potential’ and ‘perfect quarterback frame,’ he has shown very little to warrant that though. If you’re going to vie for your team to draft Jordan Love, do so with caution.
CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson, Josh Edwards, and Chris Trapasso combined to do brief profiles on several of the top quarterbacks for this year’s Draft. The wrote bullets about Love, comparing him to Patrick Mahomes while adding he “can make every throw on the field,” “has great touch on deep balls,” “has athleticism to make plays with his feet,” “coming off forgettable 2019 season,” “can try to do too much which leads to unforced turnovers,” and “can stare down receivers.”
Jacob Schyvinck from NFL Mocks writes of Love, “Jordan Love is a vertical passing quarterback, who has shown excellent technique, better than average accuracy and serviceable anticipation. The areas he needs to improve on are his decision making when deciding to throw it deep and getting past the first or second read in his progression. Love isn’t going to thrive in any offense and has trouble throwing while under pressure. He will need an offensive line protecting him at the line of scrimmage and a coach that can scheme up passing plays that make the most of his vertical style of passing.”
ESPN’s Louis Riddick said of Love (via Jackson’s article), “He’s going to go much sooner than you expect. If you looked at Jordan Love’s interceptions as a cut-up real/video edit, you would see: poor decision-making, poor accuracy, poor play calling, poor route finish by wide receivers. If you draft him, do you have the ability to eliminate/reduce severity of those issues?”
The Dolphins, if they select Tua Tagovailoa as many mock drafts seem to believe they will, are expected to sit him for a year while they ensure he is fully healthy. Why could that not be the plan for Love, who seems to be moving up draft boards including Miami’s, to allow hi a year to develop and put 2019 behind him? If Tagoaviloa is off the board by the time Miami selects with the fifth-overall selection, could Love be the quarterback Miami wants?
Targeting Love could allow Miami to either use the fifth pick on another position, then likely trade up to grab Love around the tenth position, or they could trade back from five to add another pick somewhere else in the selection process.
Like Love could add flexibility to Miami’s Draft. Could Friday’s visit have solidified him as a potential target for the Dolphins?