SALT LAKE CITY — In the first six picks of the 2020 NFL draft Thursday night, three quarterbacks went off the board — LSU’s Joe Burrow to Cincinnati at No. 1, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa to Miami at No. 5 and Oregon’s Justin Herbert to the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 6.
That left Utah State’s Jordan Love as the best available quarterback on the board an hour into the draft’s first round.
It took 20 more selections and nearly two hours — plus a trade — before Love heard his name, as the Green Bay Packers made a move to draft the former Aggie, trading up four spots with Miami to select Love with the 26th overall pick at around 9:25 p.m. MDT.
“I’m just super excited. It’s all excitement right now,” Love said in an interview on ESPN shortly after the selection. “I had some good talks with the coaching staff in Green Bay.”
Love will join a quarterback room in Green Bay that includes one of the game’s top signal callers in 15-year veteran Aaron Rodgers. Like Love, Rodgers experienced a slide down the first-round board when he was taken by the Packers with the No. 24 pick in the 2005 draft.
The 36-year-old Rodgers spent time behind Brett Favre for three seasons before taking over the starting quarterback role in Green Bay, a possible scenario for Love to replicate. Rodgers has had a storied career, leading the Packers to the Super Bowl XLV title in 2011, throwing for 46,946 yards and 364 touchdowns, earning two NFL MVP honors and being named to the Pro Bowl eight times.
“I’m already knowing I can learn a lot from Aaron Rodgers,” Love said. “That’s one of the GOATs right there in the game and I’m excited to be able to (play) behind him and learn as much as I can.”
The Packers have two other young quarterbacks, Tim Boyle and Manny Wilkins, on their roster.
It was the second time the No. 26 pick in this year’s draft had been traded, as the Dolphins got it from Houston via trade. The Packers gave up a fourth-round pick to Miami to move up four spots and draft Love.
Love, who was No. 3 on ESPN’s best available list when he was selected by the Packers, is the first Aggie to be selected in the first round since 1970, when defensive tackle Phil Olsen was taken No. 4 overall by the Boston Patriots. He’s also just the second former Utah State quarterback to go in the first round, with Bill Munson — taken seventh overall by the Los Angeles Rams in 1964 — being the other.
Love left the Aggie program following his junior season and had more than 9,000 yards of total offense at Utah State. He threw for 8,600 yards, 60 touchdowns and 29 interceptions in three seasons and had 12 career 300-yard passing games while adding 12 rushing touchdowns. He threw for 3,567 yards, 32 touchdowns and six interceptions during his best season in 2018, then saw a dip in his numbers last year, when Love threw a Division-I high 17 interceptions.
The 6-foot-4, 224-pound Love credited his father, Orbin Love, for the role he played in helping him reach the NFL. Orbin died by suicide in 2013, when Jordan Love was 14 years old.
“He got me here, really. I’m definitely fulfilling my father’s vision,” Love said.
His ability to make plays when things break down, as well as his arm strength, have earned Love comparisons to Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City’s young MVP quarterback.
Former NFL MVP quarterback Kurt Warner, now an analyst with the NFL Network, said during the telecast he was surprised by the pick while drawing comparisons between Rodgers’ tutelage under Favre and what Love may be in for as a potential heir apparent.
“This worked out pretty well for them when they went and got Aaron Rodgers when Brett Favre had a couple years left,” Warner said. “So now, they’re just building for the future. A lot of people compare (Love) to a Patrick Mahomes. He’s got that upside, that athleticism, the ability to make some of those special throws that Green Bay has seen for a number of years with Aaron Rodgers.
“It’s about preparing for the future, getting that next quarterback. But I am a bit surprised because I know Aaron Rodgers is thinking, ‘Get me some more weapons. I want to win more before I retire.’”