Could have issues with receivers making catches over him
Summary: In the passing-driven NFL, there is always a demand for cornerback talent, and Love has the ability to become a starter early in his pro career. In the storied history of Notre Dame football, Love rewrote the record book with the most pass breakups in school history. In 38 career games with 34 starts, Love broke up a tremendous total of 39 passes and was a real asset to helping the Fighting Irish to field one of the best defenses in the nation.
Love broke into the starting lineup as a freshman for the final eight games and got off to a good start with 45 tackles, three breakups, one forced fumble and an interception. Love then had a strong 2017 season for the Fighting Irish, totaling 68 tackles with three interceptions and 20 passes broken up.In 2018, Love recorded 63 tackles with 16 passes broken up and an interception. The junior played really well for Notre Dame last season and was an unsung hero of the defense.
There is a lot to like about Love for the NFL, but two things really set him apart: his instincts and his ability to play the ball. Love is an intelligent player who reads plays extremely well. With his instincts guiding him, he does an excellent job of breaking on the ball to smack passes away or snatch them for interceptions. Love's ball skills are superb, as he shows recoverability and a knack for getting his hand on passes to prevent receptions. Love's instincts lead to him having good route recognition, and that keeps him in close proximity to receivers. Overall, Love does a nice job of running the route to prevent separation.
Love has the ability to play inside or outside cornerback and could be a good weapon to move around. After playing on the outside, Love could move in to be a slot corner on third down. He has the ability to play zone or off-man coverage. While he is a bit undersized, Love is not a very physical defender with receivers, so he would not be a fit as a big press-man corner. While he does not display physicality in coverage, Love is a willing tackler and good contributor in run defense.
Love ran the 40-yard dash in 4.54 seconds at the combine, and that illustrates that he runs well enough to be a pro starter. However, he could have issues with fast receivers who are vertical deep threats. At worst, Love might need some help over the top or should be matched up against other receivers.
Some team sources told WalterFootball.com they had Love graded in the second round. For the NFL, they see him as a future starter. Love should be a second- or third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Ronde Barber. Love reminds me of a Ronde Barber to a degree. Both show excellent instincts, awareness, tackling ability, and ball skills. Barber (5-9, 180) had a little less size, and like Love, had speed concerns coming out of college. If Love pans out, I could see him being a player whose playing style is comparable to Barber's, although it isn't fair to expect Love to be as good as a potential Hall of Fame player in Barber.
NFL Matches: Tampa Bay, New York Giants, Denver, Washington, Carolina, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Houston, Kansas City, Philadelphia
There are a lot of potential landing spots for Love on the second day of the 2019 NFL Draft. At the top of Day 2, cornerback could be in play for the Giants. That is a need for the defense after trading away Eli Apple, plus Janoris Jenkins could be a cap cut before long.
The Bucs need corner help as Vernon Hargreaves has disappointed and Brent Grimes is gone. However, Tampa Bay took a few corners early on in the 2018 NFL Draft, so the team may not take a corner in the early rounds this year.
The Broncos badly need cornerback help this offseason. They signed Kareem Jackson, but they still have to replace Aqib Talib and find some other upgrades. If the Redskins are planning on cutting Josh Norman in a year or so, they could consider Love on Day 2. Carolina has some quality starting cornerbacks, but could use a third one and depth. Love could be in play for the Panthers on Day 2.
Cleveland made a great pick in Denzel Ward last year and could use an upgrade to go with him. Corner is one of the biggest needs on the Browns' roster, so in that regard, the team would be a nice fit for Love.
Pittsburgh could use more corner talent, and Love could help finish off a trio with Joe Haden and Artie Burns.
Cornerback was a weakness for Houston last offseason, and the team swung and missed on an upgrade as Aaron Colvin was a bust. The Texans signed some pedestrian veterans in free agency this year, but could use more long-term answers. Houston's corners were a liability in 2018, so adding more talent is critical.
Philadelphia has two second-round picks and needs cornerback help, especially if Ronald Darby is not in the long-term plans. The Chiefs need to upgrade their defense and could target a corner like Love to help out their secondary.