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This QB could be the next Mahomes … or a bust

This QB could be the next Mahomes … or a bust

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. He’s also mentioned Love’s outsized arm talent and inconsistent production as being similar to Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes when he entered the NFL draft three years ago.’ data-reactid=”16″>ESPN analyst Todd McShay has wondered if Love could end up as a second-round steal like San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. He’s also mentioned Love’s outsized arm talent and inconsistent production as being similar to Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes when he entered the NFL draft three years ago.

Love would more likely be selected in the top 15 than slip out of the first round. “There are times when you think there aren’t a dozen QBs in the NFL who are more gifted throwers,” Edholm wrote. “And there are plenty more when he’s not pretty at all.”’ data-reactid=”45″>Yahoo Sports NFL draft analyst Eric Edholm opined after practice on Wednesday that Love would more likely be selected in the top 15 than slip out of the first round. “There are times when you think there aren’t a dozen QBs in the NFL who are more gifted throwers,” Edholm wrote. “And there are plenty more when he’s not pretty at all.”

Heading into the 2019 season, a steady buzz had accumulated around Love after he’d torched the Mountain West for 3,567 yards as a redshirt sophomore. That quieted when he dropped in nearly every major statistical category this past season — completion percentage (64.0 to 61.9), yards per attempt (8.6 to 7.2) and touchdown passes (32 to 20). When Gary Andersen took over at Utah State this season, he planned to run a similar offense to the one Love thrived in under Matt Wells. Something didn’t translate.  

Love had opportunities to transfer to a blue blood in 2019, as LSU and Oregon were linked to his potential services. Instead, he declared for the draft. “I feel like I’m ready for the NFL,” he said. “This is what I’ve been working for my whole life.”

Love got discovered in Bakersfield, California, by two coaches with a strong pedigree in finding and developing quarterbacks. Both former Utah State head coach Matt Wells and former Aggies offensive coordinator Josh Heupel have strong backgrounds in offensive football. It speaks to both their evaluation skills and conviction to operate outside groupthink to identify, offer and take Love when no other FBS school offered.

“He had great arm strength and threw it well on the run and had pretty good poise,” Wells said in a phone interview this week. “He was tall and athletic, but really skinny.”

Wells credits strength coach Dave Scholz for helping Love blossom from a 175-pound two-star to a 225-pound NFL prospect. (No one can take credit for the extra inch he grew in Logan to get to 6-foot-4.)

Utah State QB Jordan Love (10) looks to pass during the first half of the Frisco Bowl on Dec. 20, 2019. (AP)

With a redshirt year, 50 extra pounds and some experience, Love blossomed under former Utah State offensive coordinator David Yost in 2017 and 2018. “He has a big arm,” Yost said in a phone interview. “The ball jumps off his hand and spins tight. It looks like an NFL throw. When you go to an NFL camp, it looks different. There’s no throw Jordan can’t make at a high level.”

Yost and Wells both complimented Love’s work ethic and passion for the game. He’d put in the work without making a production about it, as he’d gather a dozen skill-position guys to watch film on a Saturday night after a game. Or he’d hole up in the running back room late at night to watch film on a random weeknight because he didn’t like how practice went. “He’ll just go do it [without saying anything],” Yost said, “which is part of what it takes to be a quarterback.”

“In my life, I’ve faced some pretty different, some pretty hard adversity, off the field, without football,” Love said at the Senior Bowl this week. “So things like that in my life have really let me see the big picture, that this stuff’s easy. It’s football. It’s fun, there are some tough days but at the end of the day it’s fun.”

Both Orbin and Jordan’s mother, Anna, worked in law enforcement. Orbin worked for the Bakersfield Police Department, and Anna for the California Highway Patrol. Wells went out of his way to compliment Anna for her positive influence on Jordan, which he saw for the three seasons he coached Love.

“He’s very mature, and it speaks to Anna and how she raised him throughout high school,” Wells said. “She was really tough and strict. There was a lot of discipline in that house, and a lot of love.”

The talent and work ethic have Love poised to make the leap to the NFL. This week, ultimately, can determine the trajectory of his journey through the league.



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