2020 NFL Draft: Utah State QB Jordan Love aspires to be Patrick Mahomes 2.0

The Bears should keep a close eye on Love. While some analysts see him as a mid-first-rounder, others believe he could be available when their selections come up in Round 2.

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Jordan Love had a choppy career at Utah State but is expected to be a first- or second-round pick.

Jordan Love had a choppy career at Utah State but is expected to be a first- or second-round pick.

Sun-Times photo

MOBILE, Ala. — The Bears bypassed Patrick Mahomes three years ago, but maybe they can snag a facsimile in the upcoming draft.

Utah State quarterback Jordan Love, who arrived at the Senior Bowl projected to go anywhere from the middle of the first round to deep into the second, envisions himself in that mold. The Bears would need the latter to happen if they want to pick him without having to trade up.

There’s plenty of risk vs. reward with Love. His gunslinger approach led to a 32-touchdown, six-interception season as a sophomore that catapulted him into the NFL consciousness.

It also led to an alarming 17 picks in 13 games last season, which is not easily overlooked when a player comes from a mid-major program. Teams have peppered him with questions about his decision-making during interviews this week.

“You gotta push the ball downfield to make those big throws but also be smart with it,” said Love, who still has quite a bit of navigating to do when it comes to that conflict. “You don’t have to force every throw.

“I’ve learned a lot. Every interception, for me, that’s a learning moment. Obviously, I had 17 learning moments last season. It’s something you can go back and watch film on and learn from.”

The Bears’ first selections are in the second round at 43 and 50, and if they intend to address their woeful quarterback position with one of those picks, they’ll have to take on someone with question marks. Oregon star Justin Herbert, who also is at the Senior Bowl, is well out of reach as a clear-cut first-rounder.

Bears general manager Ryan Pace seems committed to Mitch Trubisky as the starter next season despite a total regression. He was 28th in passer rating out of 32 qualifying quarterbacks and got worse in every category except interceptions.

Pace did hint that he’s open to replacing backup Chase Daniel and practice-squad mainstay Tyler Bray, and theoretically a new quarterback would eventually get a chance to overtake Trubisky.

Even if the Bears wanted to change course at quarterback, it would be difficult to do quickly unless they make a splashy trade or free-agent signing. If they draft someone such as Love, it would be with an eye on him taking over no sooner than 2021.

Any team interested in taking him will be hung up on trying to reconcile what went so right in 2018 and so wrong last season. His team struggled as a whole, and scouts must untangle how much of that was his fault as they try to project his pro potential.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to work through two different seasons of football and see what are some of the things that were different for him and how he would approach it going forward,” said Lions coach Matt Patricia, who is coaching Love on the North team. “And you want to see what the leadership looks like as far as running an offense, being in the huddle, having control of new terminology.”

Love is studying offensive systems and getting comfortable working under center, which was a rarity for him in Utah State’s spread offense. That wouldn’t necessarily be a problem playing for Bears coach Matt Nagy, though. Nagy was with the Chiefs when they fell in love with Mahomes leading up to the 2017 draft, and Love aspires to play the same way.

“He’s just out there making magic happen,” Love said. “I like the comparison. We’ve both got strong arms. He obviously makes ridiculous throws. I hope to be able to be on the same platform as him.”

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