There are surprises. And then there are shockers.
The Green Bay Packers traded up to the 26th pick on Thursday night, choosing Utah State quarterback Jordan Love with their first-round pick. Love was mocked anywhere from the top five to the second round by draft pundits, and the Green Bay Packers were rumored to be interested. But that the Packers selected Love with current quarterback Aaron Rodgers under contract through the 2023 season was certainly unexpected.
Love had an exceptional 2018 season for the Aggies, passing for over 3,500 yards and 32 touchdowns to just six interceptions en route to a 64% completion percentage. Losing trusted weapons after his junior season, Love was inconsistent in 2019 and that showed up in an interception total that rose to 17. Despite the turnovers and indecisiveness at times, draft analysts raved about Love’s willingness to make difficult throws, especially downfield, and often hit on them.
Love’s ups and downs as a senior were somewhat negated by his athleticism during the draft process. Love ran an unofficial 4.74 in the 40 while adding a 35.5-inch vertical jump and 7.21 three-cone at 6’4 and 224 pounds. His hand measurements also checked the box at 10 1/2.” Earlier in the pre-draft process, APC took a look at Love and the possibility that the Packers would select him if still on the board. At that time, this author was reminded of a young Colin Kaepernick with Love’s ability to escape the pocket and make plays with his feet and arm on the move. Like Kaepernick can fling the ball downfield effortlessly, giving him all the physical traits and confidence to be a successful quarterback if the mental game catches up.
Still, the selection of Love is puzzling for Green Bay fans who hoped the Packers would add playmakers for Rodgers, rather than competition. Add in the fact that Green Bay traded up, surrendering a fourth-round pick in the process, and the move raises more eyebrows.
However, if there is a team that can allow Love plenty of time to grow into a more consistent decision-maker and reader of his progressions, Green Bay is the one. Sitting behind Rodgers may be just the fit Love needs while giving the Packers a capable backup quarterback and potential long-term heir to the future Hall of Famer Rodgers. Remember, Rodgers had his own draft day slide into the mid-20s before becoming an All-Pro in the wake of Brett Favre’s departure.
With perhaps a high-upside value pick of Love in the fold, the Packers will have an opportunity to turn their attention to other needs on day two of the draft. Barring a trade, Green Bay will be back on the clock at pick 62 in the second round.