2020 NFL Draft: Jordan Love faces biggest game of his career vs. LSU

NCAA Football, NFL Draft

Utah State quarterback Jordan Love can send his 2020 NFL Draft stock soaring with a top-notch performance on Saturday.

It has been quite a journey so far for Utah State quarterback Jordan Love. Just a two-star recruit in high school, his only offer from an FBS school came from Utah State. He has gone through a lot in his life and nearly quit football at one point.

After redshirting in his first season, Love has consistently gotten better in his three seasons of play. Now, peaking at the right time, Love has the potential to go in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, especially if he can put together a special performance against LSU this weekend.

Last season, Love showed some real promise as a passer. In the Aggies game against Michigan State last year, he made some unreal throws in a game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter. One of those throws was on a 3rd and 11 where Love threw a beautiful ball in between three defenders. He threw a laser 15 yards down the field while rolling left on the very next play.

He’s continued making plays in his third season under center for Utah State. In the opening game of 2019 against Wake Forest, he made several great throws, a few of which went for touchdowns. His best two passes were placed high up where only his receiver could make a play on the ball.

Love’s strengths are highlighted a lot in that thread, and they’ve been highlighted before in recent draft posts on FanSided. For a refresher though, Love possesses a quick release and gets the ball out quickly and accurately in the short passing game. His accuracy is very good at the intermediate level of the field, and his ability to understand when to let it rip or drop it in the bucket is outstanding. He’s athletic and mobile and can make plays on the run and off-platform.

The issues with Love’s game have been highlighted as well. He’s made a lot of turnover-worthy throws this year, mostly without taking time to process the defense pre and post-snap, and at times deciding where he’s going with the football. That decision-making costs him.

This week will be a big challenge for Love, and that’s a good thing. It gives him a chance to prove that he can improve with his decision-making and that he can work through progressions against a tough defense to move the football on.

I’m sure that Utah State’s coaching staff will want a lot of quick throws to open up the game, which plays to Love’s strengths. However, the coaching staff should also trust Love to make throws intermediate and deep in this game to win. Love has playmakers that he can get the ball to, and I trust his ability to make tight-window throws.

Love does need to be cautious at times in this game, especially with Kristian Fulton, Grant Delpit, and Derek Stingley roaming the secondary. He will need to be on money targeting guys in man coverage.

The other big note for this game is Love’s ability to handle pressure and stay poised in the pocket. LSU has talent along the line (K’Lavon Chaisson is expected to play) and seeing how Love responds to pressure and if he can keep poise after taking hits.

Love has a ton of talent, and this game will be a great benchmark for him in terms of where he’s at as far as a prospect. We know the tools are there, and the tools are excellent. If he can play a very good game and limit turnovers, he can jump from fringe first round prospect to a solidified one, and jump other first round hopefuls in this class.

The pressure is on for Love. Will he respond and have his best game of the season? The lights are on. Get your popcorn ready.

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