Our NFL rookie profile series kicks off with this analysis of 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Bryce Love, RB at Stanford. We will continue to provide you with these in-depth rookie profiles and a ton of other fantasy football rookie analysis right up through the NFL Draft. Stay tuned, and stay ahead of your league!
The 2019 NFL Draft class has been considered very underwhelming when it comes to the running back position, but this particular runner was almost not in this year’s draft.
Bryce Love was one of the most anticipated running backs to enter the league in 2018. However, after much consideration, Love decided to finish out his collegiate career at Stanford, despite a very successful junior year. The biggest question moving forward is: what can we expect from a player who was flying high in production two years ago but has since taken a dramatic hit?
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Stats from sports-reference.com.
The first thing that seems to jump off the page is Love’s junior year of college. 2,151 all-purpose yards is nothing to scoff at. In that season, he broke both the Stanford record for rushing yards in a single season (2,118) and rushing yards in a single game (301 yds vs. Arizona State). He also set the school record for rushing yards per attempt. He tied Christian McCaffrey the longest consecutive games of 100 rushing yards. Putting in simpler terms: he dominated.
The bigger concern has to be his 2018 season. A player who seemed to be setting the world ablaze ended up with an unimpressive final season. A good deal of this was due to an ACL injury and other issues. It also should be mentioned that he still maintained the starting role of running back throughout all of the injury struggles.
Seeing the tape, it is easy to see that Love seems to make a ton of yards in space. As a smaller running back, he uses his speed and momentum to take runs to the house and shrug off lower body tackles. When faced with an opposing defender, he rarely tries to push through, but rather relies on his speed and ability to evade a tackle.
He demonstrates decent vision and often just produces one move or stutter-step in order to gain momentum. This is essential to his type of play – getting out into space and just outrunning the rest of the defenders.
However, Love isn’t utilized in the passing game at all, which is concerning as he is often labeled as a smaller running back. The lack of involvement could be due to coaching scheme or just a lack of opportunity/need. Either way, it will need to be a cornerstone of his game moving forward in the NFL.
Looking at the measurables, it clear to see that the combine has left may dynasty owners concerned on multiple levels. The first noticeable aspect is how much smaller Love is compared to others in his position – with, height, weight, and arm length in the teens or lower. As mentioned above, he is not a power back by any means.
The other concerning aspect is the fact that he did not participate in any of the speed and agility drills. This most certainly was due to the ACL injury sustained in the prior football year. Although understandable, it still leaves many NFL teams and dynasty owners curious as to how he will look once fully recovered. What can we expect out of a smaller running back who cannot show us his current burst and speed?
Finally, I think it is important to recognize the more known comparisons in Mark Walton, Theo Riddick, and Duke Johnson – all of which have played more of a second fiddle role to a bruiser-type running back. If Love is to become relevant on a modern NFL team, he needs to model a similar game to that of a pass-catching back.
NFL Draft Prospect Bryce Love is falling in rookie and dynasty drafts. The uncertainty of the injury, size, and lack of production make it difficult for owners to draft him with any confidence. As of March ADP, he is the 31st rookie taken off the board, going behind Elijah Holyfield and before Myles Gaskin.
In a standard startup, he is typically around the 205th player off the board and the 72nd running back off the board. Needless to say, he is typically a deeper pick who can be obtained for little capital.
There is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding Bryce Love. How does a small speedy running back transfer to the next level when an injury has stripped them of their speed? Will he return to his former self and will he make the adjustments needed to change his game to match a modern NFL defense? All these are concerns, but I also think his price should be monitored.
A player with this much production in college cannot be overlooked. Chances are high that he becomes little-to-nothing for most fantasy rosters. But rookies can always surprise and when they do, dynasty value can be had. I would imagine that he gets drafted to be a second fiddle type role. If an opportunity comes, we all could be very surprised. He very much is a “boom or bust” type of candidate who needs to be monitored for his landing spot.
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