Packers trade up to select QB Love from Utah St.

The Green Bay Packers traded up late in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft on Thursday night, using the 26th pick to select the potential heir to Aaron Rodgers — Utah State quarterback Jordan Love.

The Packers traded the No. 30 selection to the Miami Dolphins’ spot at 26, a move that cost them a fourth-rounder.

Love is the first skill-position player the Packers have picked in the first round since they took Rodgers in 2005, and his selection ends the longest active such first-round drought in the NFL.

When Green Bay drafted Rodgers, starting quarterback Brett Favre was 35, and he turned 36 during the following season. Rodgers, who is under contract through 2023, is now 36 and will turn 37 in December.

“I’m already knowing I can learn a lot from Aaron Rodgers,” Love told ESPN’s Suzy Kolber after his selection. “I mean, that’s one of the GOATs right there in the game. I’m excited to be able to come back behind him and learn as much as I can.”

Rodgers told ESPN Milwaukee radio last month that he was “realistic” concerning his future and wouldn’t have an issue with the Packers drafting a quarterback.

“I know where we’re at as an organization and where I’m at in my career,” Rodgers said. “I still feel like I have a ton of years left playing at a high level. I’m confident enough. I’ve always felt like it doesn’t matter who you bring in; they’re not going be able to beat me out any time soon. I feel really confident about my abilities and my plays.

“We’ve drafted guys over the years. I think my first year starting we drafted two quarterbacks in 2008. We’ve drafted various guys over the years. I understand the business and the nature of it, obviously love to bring guys in that are going to be able to play and compete right away. I understand it’s a business. I wouldn’t have a problem.”

Love becomes just the third Mountain West Conference quarterback taken in the first round in the common draft era (since 1967), joining Alex Smith (Utah) in 2005 and Josh Allen (Wyoming) in 2018.

Love was one of the most polarizing players in this year’s class, with some teams believing he was the best thrower in a deep quarterback pool and others seeing him as a Day 2 pick.

At Utah State, he put up elite numbers in 2018, with his 32 passing touchdowns tied for eighth most in FBS as he led the Aggies to an 11-2 record. But he struggled to replicate that performance in 2019, throwing 20 TDs and 17 interceptions in Utah State’s 7-6 campaign.

“Obviously, the 17 interceptions, that was way too many interceptions for me for that season; and I did a lot of bad things for the team that year,” he said on SportsCenter earlier this week. “For me, I guess you could look at the numbers and say I had a terrible year compared to the 2018 season. But for me, it wasn’t that much different; it was really just the turnovers and the bad decision-making I made.”

Arm strength is arguably the 6-foot-4 Love’s biggest strength.

In his three seasons with the Aggies, Love recorded 65 completions of 20-plus air yards (fifth most in FBS) and threw 25 TDs that traveled 20-plus air yards (sixth most).

But he also struggled with accuracy. Those 17 picks in 2019 were an FBS high, and his completion rate (62.9%) over the past two seasons ranked 58th out of 156 qualifying QBs.

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