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2020 NFL Draft: Why there isn't value in taking Jordan Love late in the first round

It’s NFL draft week, and when the dominoes fall Thursday night — Joe Burrow to Cincinnati, Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa to their respective teams — there’s a fourth quarterback who is very likely going to go in the first round. That quarterback is Utah State’s Jordan Love.

FanDuel currently has Love’s draft prop as the 19.5th pick, although it’s shaded substantially towards the over.

[Editor’s note: Check out PFF’s 2020 Mock Draft Hub, NFL Draft Big Board and NFL Mock Draft Simulator. PFF Elite subscribers can also download the 1,100-page 2020 NFL Draft Guide.]

Love is an interesting test case in how much people value “upside versus college production — he has the arm strength and movement skills that scouts blush about, but he failed to move the ball effectively in the Mountain West in 2019, earning barely over zero wins above average in the process.

After taking just 15 sacks during his first two years, he was taken down 23 times his junior year while throwing 17 interceptions and completing just 62% of his passes, despite more than 20% of his passes failing to travel past the line of scrimmage.

There are certainly some excuses that folks can make about Love’s lack of support in 2019 — similar concerns that people had about Josh Allen coming out of Wyoming in 2018 — which are interestingly folded into the “upside” and “potential” part of the conversation when discussing Love relative to his more productive peers. 

As we did with Justin Herbert last week, we look at Love using our college-to-pro system, which is powered by the machine learning capabilities of AWS.

Just like they were with Herbert, the conclusions are not very good. While Love does have some upside, his 95th percentile (a proxy for his ceiling) statistically comps to established players like Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson, Kirk Cousins and Russell Wilson. His 50th percentile (his median projection) comps statistically to players like Colt McCoy, Christian Ponder, E.J. Manuel, Daniel Jones and early-career Sam Bradford:

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