Bryce Love 2019 NFL Draft Profile

Bryce Love 2019 NFL Draft Profile
File photo. Bryce Love #20 of the Stanford Cardinal runs throught the tackle of Brandon Pili #91 of the USC Trojans during the third quarter of an NCAA football game at Stanford Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Overview
Position: Running Back
Height: 5’9”
Weight:  193 pounds
School: Stanford Cardinal

Combine Performance Data
Bench press
: 18 reps

Bryce Love 2019 NFL Draft Profile

Bryce Love has gone from Heisman Trophy finalist and a certain top 20 pick after the 2017 season to struggling through an injury riddled senior season in 2018.

Love is from Wake Forest, North Carolina where he not only was a football standout but a track phenom. At the combine for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl prior to college, he ran a clocked 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He was a four-star football recruit coming out of high school and ESPN had him as the number 18 overall running back prospect in the country. He had 22 scholarship offers coming out of high school. Nearly all of them were from ACC, SEC or Big Ten schools. Stanford was a geographic extreme, comparatively speaking. His other two finalists were Virginia Tech and North Carolina.

In his first two seasons in Palo Alto, Love played behind Christian McCaffrey. He had 140 carries and about 1,000 yards combined over those two seasons while the Cardinal appeared in a Rose Bowl and a Sun Bowl.

As a junior, he averaged a stunning eight yards per carry. He had 2,118 yards and 19 rushing touchdowns on 263 carries. He was hobbled towards the end of the season with some leg injuries, including in the Pac-12 championship game loss to USC. Still, he came in second in the Heisman voting to Baker Mayfield. He was all Pac-12, and he won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s best running back.

To the surprise of people only outside of Palo Alto, Love came back for his senior season and he so did for the express purpose of finishing school on time, in addition to competing in football again. But injuries played a part in derailing his season. With a nagging ankle injury and an ACL injury suffered in the Cal game, Love played in only 10 games. That was the fewest of any of his seasons at Stanford.

He sat out the Sun Bowl in order to start getting himself ready for the NFL scouts. In all, he had 739 yards and six touchdowns on 166 carries as a senior.

Strengths

  • Open field vision. He is excellent at avoiding pursuit once he is past the second the level;
  • Exceptional control of feet and hips for change of direction;
  • Good body balance, weight shift;
  • Very good lateral quickness;
  • Capable receiver out of the backfield; a skill that was underutilized at Stanford given his body control and downfield vision.
  • Effort – No one ever questioned his willingness to try to play through the pain of leg and ankle injuries over two years.

Weaknesses

  • Durability is a question. He had two seasons as the featured back and suffered significant lower-body injuries both seasons. Can he handle an NFL workload?
  • Could be what leads to the durability questions. While most of the other top running backs in the draft are significantly taller than Love, most are a good 20 pounds heavier;
  • Takes too many negative runs. Needs to be more decisive from handoff in hitting the hole;
  • Needs to improve his physicality as a pass blocker;
  • Not big enough to be a straight ahead, power rusher in short yardage situations at the next level;

NFL Comparison: Jacquizz Rodgers

Teams With  A Need At The Position: Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts

Projection: Late second to early third round

Bottom Line

Love is a good character guy, with significant athletic abilities, and he plays with heart. In a perfect world for him, that would be enough. But the durability questions are legitimate. Right now, you would have to say he is not going to be a 25-carry guy on a NFL roster, so would be best served on a roster that utilizes a rotation of backs. The upside for Love is that he did not play in the bowl game or any of the post-season all-star games. He has had time to focus on just recuperation for his knee and ankle. His workout ability for NFL teams is still in flux. He would not be ready for full contact action until late summer. By the time he gets to the NFL, he will have had plenty of time to improve his health and add a few pounds.

This is not a draft with the spectacular top-10 draft pick type running back. There may be one first rounder at most. But what it lacks in dazzle, it makes up for in depth. There are a lot of quality running backs to choose from. As a result, some draft boards have Love being the second running back chosen and some have him as the sixth. It is easy to see any team that needs a runner going for one of the heavier backs. It is just as easy to see a team wanting a significant athlete who will work hard and taking him earlier in the pool, like in the second round.

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