NFL Draft Prospects 2019: Cornerback - Julian Love, Notre Dame
A two-time state champion from the Chicago Area, Love stayed at home to join the Fighting Irish. He started the final eight games of his true freshman season with some pretty good success and never missed a game since that point. As a sophomore, he ranked second nationally with 20(!) pass-breakups and three interceptions, which he took two to the house of. Last year he was a Jim Thorpe finalist and AP All-American with another 17 passes defensed.
Love played a ton in off-coverage and has made as many plays on the balls as anybody over that two-year stretch. He attacks upfield off his backpedal so quickly and even contests simple slant and hitch routes. You better not be late on throws or try to find your outlet receiver against Love, because he will already be all over that guy. Neither would I try to throw it away his direction, because he sees everything. When the scramble drill happens, he stays attached to his man. Love has such sudden deceleration having turned either way and gets back on top of routes. The former Irish corner is patient with opening his hips and even though he didn’t run that well at the combine (4.54 in the 40), I didn’t really see issues staying stride-for-stride with outside guys on tape.
This is a playmaker at that corner position, who keeps his eyes on the quarterback, anticipates route patterns and is not afraid of jumping routes. Two of Love’s three interceptions in 2017 came when he undercut throws and he took those back to the house. He consistently comes around with that inside arm to knock the ball down and has the other hand around the receiver’s shoulder pad in the rare case that guy actually catches it. When the ball is completed in front of him, he doesn’t wait for receivers to make up ground, instead being aggressive and finishing his tackles.
Love has excellent understanding of down-and-distances and when he can jump routes. That earned the number four overall coverage grade by PFF. His only touchdown allowed last season came against J.J. Arcega-Whiteside posting him up at the goal-line. While the pop in his tackles comes more in flashes, Love rarely lets guys get away and allows teammates to join the party. Overall he is very active in run support and approaches the ball-carrier with a low pad level.
Love almost exclusively lined up off on the right perimeter, although he moved around a bunch in the 2017 N.C. State game. With little experience in press and receivers coming at him at full throttle, he might not quite be able to hold up against true speedster running by him. Love gets caught on double-moves every once in a while, because he wants to beat receivers to the spot so badly, At sub-six feet there are some limitations of who you can match him up against in the red-zone and in some spots on the field.
This kid has been one of my favorites to watch these last two years and one can only hope that his draft pick no. justifies his potential. Love might not have elite size or speed, but he has a tremendous feel for the position and his production is undeniable. He is ultra-competitive and his commitment to the film room is undeniable when you see how all over he is on different routes and concepHere is an in-depth analysis of Washington cornerback Byron Murphy.ts. I’m not sure if he’s a true number one corner against a Julio Jones or guys like that, but he would be an outstanding CB2 and I could see him move into the slot at times as well.
Grade: Early Second