Jordan Love has been the most polarizing quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft class. His evaluation is very difficult, as he shows the mental and physical traits that are necessary to be a top-tier quarterback, but only does so sparingly. As a result, it’s difficult to give a clear grade and projection. The goal of this Pro Football Magazine Jordan Love scouting report is to illustrate what Love does well in order to determine his ceiling, and also all of his inconsistencies, in order to try to determine what trajectory his career could actually take.
Games watched (all-22): Wake Forest, Nevada, BYU, Boise State, LSU, Kent State
Best game: Wake Forest
Worst game: BYU
Jordan Love Scouting Report: Arm strength
Love’s arm is strong enough to make timing throws to the outside with ease.
Love can also fit the ball into tight windows.
Arm strength: 8/10
Jordan Love Scouting Report: Ball Placement
Most of the time Jordan Love’s mechanics are smooth and he can deliver the ball very quickly, as he usually doesn’t make any unnecessary movements. This allows him to be consistently on time when using quick game concepts.
However, there were quite a lot of times where he would under-throw the ball when he was either trying to throw deep or to the outside. This is most certainly not because of arm strength. The main reason the ball dies on him some times, from what I can tell, is that he doesn’t keep his back foot grounded through the throw, causing him to lose balance.
This lead to Love completing only 31.8% of his deep throws, even though he certainly has the talent to do so more consistently.
Understanding of best placement and trajectory
Jordan Love’s incredible inconsistency probably shows up the most when it comes to ball placement. This makes the evaluation very difficult, as after a couple of plays it seems like he understands it well very well, and then after another couple of plays it seems like he has no idea.
The most important facet when it comes to ball placement and trajectory is leading your receiver away from the defender. This not only makes the catch easier, but makes it easier for them to add yards after the catch. Overall, he rarely places the ball decently; it’s either spot on or terrible.
Another important facet to ball placement and trajectory is understanding that a defender with his back turned can only cover the width of his shoulders as he doesn’t have any time to react. There were a lot of instances on tape of Love targeting defenders with their back turned, so it definitely seems like he understands this facet. However in terms of ball placement, there were numerous examples of him not putting much loft under the ball.
Another part of ball placement and trajectory is being able to throw your receiver open when they don’t have any separation. Love showed a lot of creativity when it came to this, which indicates his natural feel for the game.
Something that showed up a lot on Justin Herbert’s tape was that his receivers would consistently get blown up when running seams or short post routes. This is mainly because Herbert didn’t throw the ball away from the safety, not allowing his receiver to stay in the open space. For the most part, Love showed a good understanding of this, and only once did I see one of his receivers getting blown up when running a route near the deep middle of the field.
Another aspect of ball placement and trajectory is being able to put the right velocity on the ball. Love showed a good ability to adjust the velocity he puts on the ball. However, there were times where he would take off velocity when he shouldn’t have. This may be because of his tendency to under-throw the ball, as mentioned earlier.
Love was consistently accurate on the run and looked natural doing so, which resulted in some very nice throws. However, his tendency to under-throw the ball was highlighted when on the run. Even so, I would still use quite a lot of sprint-outs and bootlegs, as it would give him easier reads, while also having the ability to throw accurately on the run.
The stats say he’s very inaccurate, as 17.3% of his passes resulted in an incompletion that was the quarterback’s fault, according to Pro Football Focus. This puts him at 91st out of 106 FBS quarterbacks and almost three times higher than Joe Burrow (6.3%). However the film paints a much more ambiguous picture, as he definitely has the physical tools and seemingly the mental tools to be a very accurate quarterback but rarely puts everything together.
Overall ball placement: 5/10
Jordan Love Scouting Report: Anticipation
Love frequently committed to his pre-snap read. This led to some quick and efficient throws, but also led to some bad interceptions. I do like the fact that Love was reading the defense pre-snap, but he needs to get better at confirming post-snap what he saw pre-snap.
This tendency to be overly decisive showed when he was going through his reads, as he would consistently lock on to a receiver and force the throw even when it wasn’t there.
However, like everything with Love, there were examples of the opposite, as there were examples of him going through his reads smoothly and making a good decision and throw. There were also times when he would turn down viable opportunities. This issue mostly arose when the opportunity was over the middle. The likely reason for this is that the many interceptions he threw to underneath defenders caused him to be hesitant to throw over the middle.
There were quite a lot of examples of Love being able to quickly process the coverage pre-snap and make good throws. This I think is due to his natural feel for the game and his decisive nature.
Like I mentioned with him not confirming something that he saw pre-snap, the same issue was apparent post-snap, as there were numerous examples where he would read something on a part of the field, expect a throw to be there somewhere else, and throw it without actually confirming that it was there. This was the cause of a lot of his interceptions.
The key to great anticipation is reading the defense, not your receivers. Doing this allows you to anticipate where windows will open up based on the movements and assignments of the defenders in the intended target area. To be able to do this successfully, you need to have mastered your team’s concepts and have an in-depth understanding of coverages and your opposition. Love had an advantage over most other quarterbacks in the class as Utah State used the same concepts repeatedly.
Also, the defenses he faced were not very complex. So, Love should have been more consistent at anticipating than he was. Like everything with Love, whether he can anticipate consistently is ambiguous. Burrow clearly could; Herbert clearly could not.
Overall anticipation: 4/10
Love is pretty elusive in the pocket and there were numerous examples of him either making a defender miss or sustaining the contact and not getting sacked. The stats back this up, as only 15.5% of his pressures turned into sacks, according to Pro Football Focus. This is three percent lower than the FBS average.
However, statistics never tell the full story. In this case, they miss the fact that Love invited a lot of pressure by looking to escape when he didn’t need to. This bias towards scrambling and making something happen outside the pocket showed up regularly. It didn’t cost him that much, playing against inferior competition, but he will get punished for it in the NFL.
Another issue that I saw was that he had a bias against throwing the check down.
When the defense doesn’t expect you to throw a check down, it makes it easier for the underneath defenders to drop further back than usual, tightening windows deeper down the field. Love acknowledged this in an interview he did at the combine: “I was trying to do too much and force the ball downfield, thinking I could make throws into tight windows. There were situations where I could have checked the ball down, but I was trying to make that play.”
The downsides of this were more evident as a lot of his turnover-worthy throws came when throwing into tight windows. The same thing will happen in the NFL if he doesn’t start taking check downs more often. When Love knew where he wanted to go with the ball he was good at navigating the pocket in order to buy a bit more time and looked natural doing so.
Another issue that I saw arise a couple of times is that he has a tendency to drop his eyes when he sees a blitz. This also sometimes happens when he’s scrambling.
Even though he only had five fumbles, which is about average, he often only kept one hand on the ball. As most young quarterbacks (the leaders in fumbles in the NFL last season were the following: Daniel Jones, Carson Wentz, Josh Allen, Kyle Allen, Gardner Minshew) learn the importance of keeping two hands on the ball at all times the hard way, Love will likely struggle early on in his career with fumbles.
Pocket presence: 4/10
Love has pretty good acceleration and can consistently escape pass rushers. He has solid power through contact and is a pretty good option for designed quarterback runs.
Love shows good understanding of eye manipulation on a pretty regular basis. He had the opposite problem to Herbert, in that he would see windows that weren’t there. This resulted in way too many reckless throws, and at the end of the day, playing quarterback is all about consistency as one bad throw can cancel out a lot of good throws.
Football intelligence: 3/10
If I was Love’s offensive coordinator, I would use a lot of quick game concepts as doing so would limit the amount of turnover-worthy throws that he will make. The key coaching point that I would emphasize when it comes to this would be to confirm post-snap what he was seeing pre-snap, as NFL defenders will try to bait him.
I would be more comfortable using pure drop back concepts with Love than with Herbert, but I would try to make the reads as simple as possible, sticking mostly to movement/read key concepts such as Smash, Yankee, Mills, and Dagger. Using concepts with clearer reads will make it less likely that he throws into closed windows. I think Love can have a decent bit of success on these concepts as he displays quick processing most of the time, and he certainly has the arm talent.
My main concern using these deeper concepts would be his tendency to under throw the ball. This would be the main thing that I would get him to improve. I think this mechanical issue will be easier to fix than Herbert’s mechanical issue as the main cause of it, from what I can tell, is that he unnecessarily bounces around when in the pocket, causing him to be unbalanced when he goes to throw.
I would also look to incorporate a decent bit of play-action, especially when using concepts that attack the middle of the field, for example Yankee and Mills. The reason I would do this is that it would suck the underneath defenders up closer to the line of scrimmage, opening up throwing lanes over the middle. Another way that I would help open up throwing lanes over the middle for him would be to emphasise the importance of throwing the check down when the downfield reads aren’t open.
Arguably the toughest transition for Love will be learning the verbose play calls and complex concepts that make up an NFL playbook. The reason why I think it would be tougher is that they used a very limited amount of plays at Utah State. I only saw them use seven different concepts on a somewhat regular basis: Lion (double slants), Stick, dusty under (square in routes from two outside receivers; corner from inside receiver), shallow cross, all go, all go special, and post-wheel.
Based on this Jordan Love scouting report, I cannot think of a low-end comparison for him. So, my baseline comparison for him is Josh Allen. Both are strong arm prospects from the Mountain West Conference, have good mobility, display an aptitude for the game, but have inconsistent accuracy and decision making.
My high end comparison for him is Jameis Winston. Winston consistently plays with great timing, ball placement and anticipation, but as mentioned above, one bad throw can cancel out a lot of good ones, and that is certainly the case with Winston.
Based on this Jordan Love scouting report, my round grade for him is mid-second.
My overall grade for him is (using PFM’s formula for weighing each trait by its importance) – 33.25/67.5- 49%
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)