QB Jordan Love is an NFL draft first-round hopeful, but teams want an explanation for 17 interceptions
INDIANAPOLIS — Jordan Love has encountered the video in NFL interviews.
Teams are cueing up clips of his junior-season 17 interceptions—or “17 learning moments,” as Love views them—as they try to decipher one of the draft’s top quarterback prospects.
The Utah State product doesn’t flinch.
“You’ve got to take the good with the bad,” Love said Tuesday morning. “It’s never fun, but if I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t have to throw 17 interceptions next time.”
Love turned heads in 2018 as a sophomore at Utah State, when he threw for 3,567 yards and 32 touchdowns to just six interceptions. But significant turnover among both players and coaches contributed to a far less resounding 2019 stat line. Love still threw for 3,402 yards but his touchdown-to-interception ratio slipped to 20:17. Behind a raw offensive line, he rushed for nearly three times as many yards in 2019 (175) as 2018 (63) but dropped from seven rushing touchdowns to none.
“I was trying to do a little too much down there and force the ball downfield, thinking I could make throws into tight windows,” Love said. “Obviously just being in some situations where I could’ve just checked the ball but I was trying to make that play.”
Analyses like that are why Love doesn’t mind breaking down his interception film with teams considering drafting him. He’s glad to take teams through each step, what his read was and why he threw the ball where he did. He’s practicing his footwork in the pocket, dropbacks under center and defensive reads so that, as a pro, he will better balance risk and reward.
Love knows NFL teams are wondering: Would drafting him, possibly in the first round, land them a player ofte compared to Patrick Mahomes given his impressive arm strength and a knack for improvisation? Or will the forced throws, risky decisions and apparent oversights carry over to the pro level?
“You watch my film: I make an incredible play then next thing you know, I miss a swing route or checkdown or something like that,” Love said. “Definitely the most important thing to me is being more consistent.”
Throughout ups and downs, Love stays clearheaded. He’s battled adversity far greater than an interception, losing his father to suicide in 2013.
“I’ve had to face some real stuff,” Love said. “I never let a moment of football get bigger than what I’ve had to face in my actual life.”
Instead, he spends his days hammering improvement. He begins each training day with physical therapy and speed work, then throws with his quarterback coach and heads to the weight room. Before day’s end, he breaks down defenses on the board.
The combination reminds NFL teams: Love is more than his 17 “learning moments.” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw 19 interceptions his last year at Boston College, Colts general manager Chris Ballard pointed out Tuesday. Since then: Ryan has won league MVP, earned four Pro Bowl berths and taken his team to the Super Bowl. Why not Love?
“Look, he’s very talented,” Ballard said. “Had a heck of a season in 2018. … You gotta break down each one of those interceptions and why did they happen? It’s not always on the quarterback. I’m not saying that’s the case in this situation.
“But we gotta break all those down and see where we’re at.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.