NFL Teams Should Be Calling Green Bay About Jordan Love in Weak 2022 QB Class

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystApril 28, 2022

Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love throws during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Duane Burleson/Associated Press

There has been no shortage written and said about the talent at the quarterback position in the 2022 draft class—or the lack thereof. Whether it's Malik Willis of Liberty, Desmond Ridder of Cincinnati or Kenny Pickett of Pitt, pundits and teams like one passer over another.

But there ain't much love. Not the way there was for Trevor Lawrence in 2021 or Joe Burrow in 2020.

There has also been plenty written about a pair of veteran quarterbacks who remain available on the trade market. But no one is beating down the door to acquire Cleveland's Baker Mayfield or San Francisco's Jimmy Garoppolo—at least not yet. The Browns have zero leverage to bargain with, and ESPN's David Newton wrote that the Carolina Panthers don't view Garoppolo as a real upgrade over Sam Darnold.

But there's another veteran out there who might be available. One younger than Mayfield (27) and Garoppolo (30). One who at least one pundit indicated would be viewed as the No. 1 prospect in this admittedly less than ideal class under center. One who could likely be had for a relatively reasonable price—say a second-round pick and some filler.

Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

Given all that, before QB-needy NFL teams gamble an early pick on one of this year's rookies, there's a step they should take.

They should call the Green Bay Packers about Jordan Love.

While appearing on The Pat McAfee Show, CBS Sports NFL analyst Charles Davis indicated that from what he's heard, were this Love's first season and not his third, he'd be the No. 1 quarterback prospect in this class—and it wouldn't be particularly close.

"Everyone's grade on Jordan Love for this year's draft," Davis said, "would be higher than the guys who are in this year's draft."

Pat McAfee @PatMcAfeeShow

"I thought the Packers would make Jordan Love available after bringing back Aaron Rodgers" ~Charles Davis #PMSLive https://t.co/xmicSL4bB0

We haven't seen much out of the 6'4", 219-pound Love since the Packers stunned the NFL by trading up to make him the second quarterback drafted behind Burrow in 2020. He made one start last year while Aaron Rodgers was on the COVID-19 list, completing 19 of 34 passes for 190 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a November loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Other than that, it has been the occasional mop-up duty and a whole lot of clipboard-holding.

Love was a polarizing prospect in 2020. After a masterful season at Utah State in 2018 (3,567 passing yards, 32 scores and just six picks), Love's number's fell off considerably the following year—just 20 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. As Matt Miller wrote at the time for Bleacher Report, Love looked the part of a player who had all it physically but who also badly needed time to adjust to the NFL.

"Love is a case study in traits vs. production. He has the traits scouts love (arm strength, mobility, big-play mentality), but he threw 17 interceptions in 2019. No matter which team drafts him, Love is a sit-and-develop type quarterback, not a rookie starter. He must work on cleaning up his decision-making while also growing into a professional quarterback after coming from a conference where his arm strength and athleticism were good enough to win. Love is a major boom-bust prospect who could end up being the best quarterback from the class or a journeyman backup."

However, as Robert Mays wrote for The Ringer, what Love did well on tape was in many cases jaw-dropping.

"Love's strengths are obvious from the moment you flip on his film," Mays wrote. "He certainly looks the part of an NFL starter. At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Love has the prototypical frame that traditionalists prefer. And he's also got a livewire arm to go with it. Like a lot of big quarterbacks, Love can rifle throws outside the numbers. Sometimes it's hard to process how fast the ball gets to the receiver. The tape looks like it's sped up."

Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

Love has every bit as much mobility as Willis—with a significantly bigger arm. In some respects the two are similar. Small-school standouts who have shown flashes of immense potential but carry legitimate questions as to whether that potential can be realized in the NFL.

There's a difference between the two, though. One has never attempted an NFL pass. The other has spent two seasons learning the game and watching one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the league.

There wasn't a more stunning selection in the 2020 draft than Love at No. 26 overall. Rather than draft some help at wide receiver for Rodgers, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst traded up to select Love.

It played a significant role in all of the drama surrounding Rodgers and the Pack in seasons since. And as Packers CEO Mark Murphy said in an interview with Tom Grossi, Love has yet to prove he has a future in Titletown.

"We think he can be a good player, but we haven't seen enough," Murphy said (h/t Nick Shook of NFL.com). "So I think this preseason will be good for him."

Here's the thing: Love has no future in Green Bay. And he should be long gone by the time the preseason starts.

The massive three-year, $150.8 million extension that Rodgers signed with the Packers guaranteed that he'll be the starter through at least 2023. And assuming the wheels don't fall off (and there's no reason to think they will given that he just won a second consecutive MVP award), the 38-year-old is under contract through 2026.

The Love pick was a terrible play by Gutekunst. A gouda gaffe. A brie blunder.

May have forced the cheese humor a tad there.

The wisest play for the Packers is to see what they can get for Love and move on. Is the team recouping the first-round pick (and fourth-round pick) it cost to obtain Love? No. But a Day 2 pick (perhaps even a second-rounder) and a Day 3 selection (or swap of late-rounders) is a real possibility.

A possibility that should interest numerous teams.

What makes more sense for the Carolina Panthers? Rolling the dice on Willis early in Round 1 or grabbing an offensive tackle and bringing in Love to compete with Sam Darnold? Should the Seattle Seahawks roll with Drew Lock (a rhetorical question), gamble on Kenny Pickett at No. 9 or dangle one of their two second-rounders as bait in a Love trade? The Atlanta Falcons need a long-term answer at quarterback, but they also need just about everything else.

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

The consensus in many mock drafts is that all those teams will pass on a quarterback in Round 1. But all it takes is one team to get twitchy to start a run. And there isn't a position that makes teams twitchier than quarterback.

Even if no quarterback has been selected by the time the Steelers are on the clock at No. 20, what serves the them better? Risking a first-rounder on Willis or addressing another position and then dealing some draft capital for a player in Love with similar traits and two years of NFL experience?

It's entirely possible that come the preseason Love will still be in Green Bay trying to prove his worth. Gutekunst may be stubborn about admitting selecting Love was a bad idea from the jump and hold on unless he gets a "Godfather" offer. Other teams may decide they prefer the shiny new rookies to a player whose first two seasons have been underwhelming.

But the smart move for the Packers is to be realistic and get what they can for Love. The smart move for QB-needy teams in this year's draft is to take a hard look at a player who has arguably more potential than any prospect in the class and two (or three) years left on his rookie deal—potential that can be had at a discount.

The smart move is to pick up the phone and inquire about Jordan Love.