With the NFL Scouting Combine kicking off on-field work last night in prime time on NFL Network, it's time to start packing up the tugboat that annually pushes quarterbacks up in the first round.
The one position that defies draft slot is the signal-caller, the most vital position in sports. Teams can't pay enough to find their future quarterback. If they're right about a player at that position, no amount will have been too much to spend. Swing and miss, and you've set your franchise back for years -- and likely won't be around for another at bat.
Following Thursday night's performance, Utah State's Jordan Love could be screaming to the top of the first round.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Love is creating the most buzz at the combine this year.
"Of all the quarterback names here in Indianapolis that have been buzzing the hallways, late-night bars and restaurants, Jordan Love much more so than anyone," Rapoport said. "I've talked to general managers, assistant GMs, coaches, they all wanted to see how this guy threw because his buzz is kind of building. We've all kind of assumed that he's a first-round quarterback. I would not be surprised now, upper-end of the first round, maybe even heading up into the top 10."
NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah ranks Love as his 18th overall player heading into the 2020 draft.
"So he's a first-round quarterback all-day long," Jeremiah said Thursday night on NFL Network's broadcast of the combine. "It's going to kind of come down to where he goes. I think there's two quarterback runs we're going to see. When you look at (picks) five, six, and seven, the Dolphins, the Chargers, the Panthers, potentially being quarterback teams. But then this is the next run you're going to see -- potentially, depending on what happens in free agency -- ... 12 (Raiders), 13 (Colts), 14 (Bucs), I think we could see a couple guys in that range as well."
Love will be an interesting evaluation for NFL scouts. He impressed in 2018, but struggled in 2019. Will teams shy away after problems forcing the ball into coverage too much this season, or focus on his much better tape the previous year?
During Thursday night's on-field drills, Love displayed improved footwork for a player who didn't work from under center in college and got into a rhythm during the throwing portion.
You can watch Love's entire combine performance here:
One big question is whether Love can step in right away or needs a year or two of seasoning before taking off, a la Patrick Mahomes, who Love has been compared to on occasion.
Landing in the right situation could help Love join the growing group of young signal-callers capable of spinning magic with their arms and legs.