Bryce Love
Don’t sleep on Bryce Love. He’s still very dangerous. Love could be the steal of the 2019 NFL Draft (Tony Avelar/Associated Press)

It’s a down year for running backs. There isn’t a single blue-chip running back prospect this year. Josh Jacobs tops most of the boards according to the experts, but he is far from a sure thing. There are some sleepers in the middle rounds, but they feel like coin flips at best. However, there is one back who we forget about: Bryce Love. He’s still very dangerous.

If Bryce Love had entered the NFL Draft a year ago, the Stanford product goes in the first round. Love’s stock is dropping like crazy because of health concerns. Love had a down year and tore his ACL to end the year. I understand why draft pundits are down on Love, but the hate is getting too out of control. Health is the number one concern. Just take a second to think about that. Health. There are only two outcomes. The first is that he’s healthy. If that’s the case, why isn’t Love way higher on draft boards?

Love has a lot of things going for him. Even in what was called a down year hampered by ankle injuries, Love still averaged 4.5 yards per carry. The more accurate representation when healthy, Love averaged 8.1 yards per carry as a Junior. The first thing Love does well is pick up yards that other small backs just don’t. Love sits at 5-foot-10, 200 pounds but he is a back that is willing to get his nose dirty. Check out this run. Most small backs just fall over but Love is tough and physical.

I understand that this isn’t a sexy run, but Love falls forward and keeps those legs churning. The big fella with the long hair in the middle is Vita Vea who was a first round pick by the Bucs in 2017. That’s top notch competition.

The thing that makes Love special is his speed, quickness, and change of direction. Love has special vision and can hit the home run ball on any given carry. That’s incredible value. Go and watch any of the running backs this year. The only guy that comes close to that Le’Veon Bell patience and cutting ability. Love didn’t run at the combine but by watching his games, I have no doubt that he has 4.4 speed. Love was a track superstar and has competed on the US team in the past.

Bryce Love

Bryce Love broke 76 tackles in 2017. Only Rashaad Penny who played in a shit conference topped that mark among backs drafted a year ago. If you watched Stanford in the past, all you saw was Love breaking off long run after long run. Love finished the 2017 season with 30 carries of 20 yards or more. Whether it’s making a man miss in the open field or busting through arm tackles, Love is special when healthy.

Prior to the 2018 season, the only real question mark was his receiving ability. I also believe that he is a better receiver than his numbers indicate. In 4 years, Love has 49 receptions in a run-heavy Stanford offense. That’s not a terrible number. Love also averaged 9.5 yards per catch. There are ways to be more creative in the passing game that Stanford never used him.

Want to look for an A Plus dude? Bryce Love’s Character traits are off the charts. This man is a rocket scientist. No, really, he is. Love is a genius on and off the field. Love went back to school to graduate. This is a guy who is going to work his tail off. Take a second to think about this. Love doesn’t have to deal with academics anymore. I bet that Stanford workload is crazy. Put his focus just on football and maybe Love is even better. This is something that has happened in the past. Doug Baldwin, Richard Sherman, and Christian McCaffrey fit that mold.

At the end of the day, a healthy Bryce Love is the best running back in the draft. ACL injuries are not what they used to be. You could even make the case that this injury helps him. It prevented a ton of potential carries that he may have gotten a year ago. Be careful about passing on Bryce Love. He just might be the steal of the draft.