In 2020, Jordan Love was an intriguing draft prospect who the Packers traded up for in the NFL Draft. Aaron Rodgers was coming off a down year, but that didn't make the selection any less surprising.
Rodgers responded to the selection with back-to-back NFL MVP campaigns in 2020 and 2021. Then in 2022 Rodgers watched the Packers trade away his top receiver, Davante Adams, to Las Vegas, then dealt with a combination of injuries and inexperienced wide receivers. Rodgers finished 2022 with some of the worst numbers of his career.
Fantasy managers knew this offseason could be the one that led to a breakup between Rodgers and the Packers, something Rodgers confirmed when he told The Pat McAfee Show that his intention was to play for the Jets in 2023.
And his departure from Green Bay means that we're headed toward Love getting his opportunity to start for the Packers. But will Fantasy managers love Love?
Before the pros
I wrote the prospect profile for Jordan Love before the 2020 draft (you can read it here -- we've come a long way in our player outlooks since then!). Here are the highlights and lowlights from what I saw:
- Effortless passing motion
- Good arm strength
- Not often scared by pass rush pressure
- Excellent mobility to navigate the pocket.
- Keeps plays alive with his legs and willing to run when defenses give him space.
- Inconsistent accuracy and overall play, especially in 2019 when his O-line lost some starters and his coaching staff changed.
- Struggled to consistently read defenses.
- Lots of short throws and pre-determined reads.
Has he changed?
Love obviously hasn't gotten many chances to play over the past three seasons. He didn't play at all as a rookie, then only saw considerable playing time in blowouts, save for one start at Kansas City when Rodgers was sidelined with Covid-19. In total, Love has thrown 83 passes and run 13 times, though seven of the 13 carries were literally kneel-downs.
From what I've seen, his ball placement remains inconsistent. He's on the money more often than not (especially in 2022), but he still threw behind or too high for receivers.
He's also still not challenging downfield much. Of his 83 throws, 55 traveled 10 or fewer Air Yards and another 14 were good for 11-to-15 Air Yards. That means only 14 of his throws went 16-plus Air Yards. He completed two -- both to Randall Cobb of all people. One of the throws was magnificent, the other needed Cobb to camp out and make the jump-ball reception.
All three of his touchdowns were catch-and-run plays by his receivers, two of which were considerably long.
However, one of Love's best traits remains strong: he can move. There were a number of plays Love kept alive with his legs, often leading to a pass attempt but on occasion leading to a run. On six carries that weren't kneel-downs he had 33 yards, a 5.5 rushing average.
Every single Fantasy manager should be on high alert for updates on how Love looks at Packers camp. We already know the potential Christian Watson gives any quarterback, and we know Love has some upside with what he goes on the ground. If he's throwing with confidence and accuracy then he'll have the makings of a big-time breakout season, especially if the Packers offensive line is solid and the receiving corps finds a boost this offseason.
But anything short of this should make Fantasy managers nervous. If we see him struggle through a couple of preseason games, for example, there won't be much heat to draft him.
If the offseason treats him well, then expect him to be an easy No. 2 Fantasy quarterback who will get picked as the 20th quarterback off the board. And if things are right then he'll carry appeal as a late-round stash. But he'll need to look the part as a reliable passer to land this outlook -- something he hasn't done yet (or had the chance to do) in his pro career.