Updated: May 28, 8:05 AM EST
The Green Bay Packers felt very confident about Jordan Love in the 2020 NFL Draft, trading up to draft the Utah State product with the No. 26 overall pick and creating drama with Aaron Rodgers. A year later, it seems general manager Brian Gutekunst might be feeling a little regretful.
Coming off a loss in the NFC Championship Game, Green Bay’s decision to draft Love shocked the NFL world. While the Packers’ draft office was adamant about drafting its quarterback heir, with speculation it was done to spite Rodgers, the pick received strong criticism from scouts and general managers.
It was a massive gamble for the organization. The NFL Draft was conducted virtually, with everyone aware that rookie practices and mandatory minicamps would likely be wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic. Love would still have an opportunity to get reps in training camp in the preseason, or so the franchise hoped. The NFL canceled the 2020 preseason in August, putting Love even further behind in his development.
Latest news on Jordan Love
As Aaron Rodgers enjoys Hawaii and shines some light on his issues with the Packers, Love is getting the biggest opportunity of his professional career. After receiving limited practice reps in his rookie season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the second-year quarterback is getting plenty of reps in minicamp.
Love is working as the first-team quarterback and making quite a strong impression, as ESPN’s Rob Demovsky reported.
- Love completed 14-of-20 pass attempts during 7-on-7 drills, showing plenty of comfort working through his reads and spreading the football around.
- Demovsky added that the 22-year-old quarterback showed much better touch in minicamp, showing better touch on deep passes and flashing more velocity on his throws.
It’s worth noting, this is all being done without the Packers’ top receivers. Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Devin Funchess and Equanimeous St. Brown are all not participating in the voluntary practices. But Love is quickly developing chemistry with Amari Rodgers, Green Bay’s third-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
It’s important to note, these are light practices and the environment is made to make things easier for a quarterback. But the reports are better than what came out of training camp last year. While Love still has plenty of room to grow, it’s evident that he can at least make year-to-year improvements.
Concerns with Jordan Love entering NFL Draft
Fast forward to the 2021 NFL Draft and everything came to a head for Green Bay. Rodgers, still upset over Gutekunst’s decision to draft Love without even giving the franchise star a phone call, wants out. Green Bay is doing everything it can to keep its future Hall of Fame quarterback. Not only because he offers them the only shot to compete for a Super Bowl, but because the Packers might be losing a little confidence in Love’s abilities.
“You heard rumblings that maybe they aren’t as high on Love. That doesn’t mean a lot, because it’s all second-hand. What means a lot to me is this, he had a COVID year, he had no preseason, they can’t know a lot about Jordan Love. How could you feel good about Jordan Love going into the season as your starting quarterback when he didn’t have a preseason last year or a normal year to develop his skills.”NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper on ESPN’s Get Up
The concerns around Love’s rookie season aren’t new, even dating back to his first few months with the team. Reports out of training camp weren’t positive, with both reports and even head coach Matt LaFleur publicly disclosing that Love wasn’t making a strong impression.
Love’s struggles could even be seen before he arrived in Green Bay. He looked like a rising college football star in 2018 at Utah State, becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the country. But he took a massive step back in his junior season, but the Packers drafted him in the first round anyway.
- Jordan Love stats (2018): 3,567 passing yards, 64% completion rate, 8.6 ypa, 32/6 TD/INT ratio, 158.3 passer rating and seven rushing touchdowns
- Jordan Love stats (2019): 3,402 passing yards, 61.9% completion rate, 7.2 ypa, 20/17 TD/INT ratio, 129.1 passer rating and zero rushing touchdowns
Evaluations on Love were split, with some viewing him as a fourth-round talent and the majority of draft boards rating him as a Day 2 pick. But, seeing a need to find an heir to Rodgers, Green Bay moved up and grabbed him fearing another club might take him.
WIll Jordan Love start for the Packers?
Love never saw the field in 2020, spending the entire season as the Packers’ No. 3 quarterback. With both Rodgers and backup Tim Boyle healthy and practicing, there were never any snaps for Love to work through his issues. Instead, all of his learning had to be done virtually or on his own time.
Rodgers is under contract with the Packers and the new CBA makes holding out this summer extremely costly. If the reigning NFL MVP wants to sit out the entire 2021 season to force a trade, it would cost him $20-plus million. But the recent reports give him leverage.
Green Bay already admitted that Love isn’t ready to start and said it’s going to take some time before that moment arrives. Unfortunately for them, it highlights one of the flaws in drafting him. The benefit of having a rookie quarterback is his first NFL contract is cheap, allowing a franchise to spend heavily at other positions.
Love likely won’t be seeing the field in 2021 and there are signs he might not even be ready in 2022. After three seasons, teams must decide whether or not they want to exercise the fifth-year option. Based on the direction things are headed, the Packers might have to decide whether or not to fully guarantee Love’s contract in 2024 and 2025 without seeing him for more than a few NFL starts.