SALT LAKE CITY — As quarterback Jordan Love is headed into his junior season at Utah State, he's already being discussed as an NFL prospect.
The admiration for Love is understandable: He's coming off a season where he completed 64% of his passes for 3,567 yards, 32 touchdowns and six interceptions while rushing for seven more touchdowns for the Aggies .
Could the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder from Bakersfield, California, eventually become a first-round pick? Yahoo! Sports' Eric Edholm tabbed Love as one of 10 under-the-radar prospects who could be taken during the first round of the 2020 NFL draft.
"The 6-foot-4, 220-pound passer is a smooth operator with an easy release and beautiful touch," Edholm wrote. "His poise, calm and smarts are evident when watching him operate under duress."
One game that Edholm was particularly impressed with Love's tape was USU's 38-31 loss to Michigan State last season, when the then-sophomore quarterback nearly led an upset.
"Turn on the Michigan State tape — one of the best defenses in the country a year ago — and you see Love making throw after big throw in a near upset of the Spartans," Edholm wrote.
Love also made an impression on Spartans linebacker Joe Bachie, who capped the win for Michigan State with a late tipped-pass interception. Bachie believes Love will be a high draft pick.
“(Love) and that whole team were better than they had shown on tape the year before,” Bachie told Yahoo Sports at Big Ten Media Day. “He had a strong arm, was very composed in the pocket, and if we wouldn’t have made that play at the end of the game, he could have led the team down the field to score a touchdown to win the game easily."
There will be some early tests again for Love and the Aggies this season. USU opens the season at ACC opponent Wake Forest before playing at SEC power LSU on Oct. 5.9 comments on this story
"Love’s challenge is tough with the Aggies replacing nine starters, including four offensive linemen and most of his top receiving targets. But if he can stack back-to-back big seasons, we see his profile skyrocketing," Edholm wrote.
Love isn't the only Mountain West player to show up on the under-the-radar list. Edholm also highlights Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald and Boise State edge rusher Curtis Weaver as potential first-rounders.
The Pac-12 is also well-represented, with Stanford tight end Colby Parkinson, Washington State offensive tackle Abraham Lucas and Stanford cornerback Paulson Adebo making the list.