When Julian Love announced that he was leaving early for the NFL Draft in January, most projected the Jim Thorpe Award finalist as a 2nd round pick. Some even thought he could sneak into the back end of the 1st round. As the 2019 NFL Draft enters day 3 with the start of the 4th round at noon, Love is still waiting to hear his name called.
The last Notre Dame cornerback to be drafted in the 2nd round or higher is Bobby Taylor all the way back in 1995 when the Eagles selected him 50th overall. Many felt Love would change that this year, but here we are entering the 4th round and Love remains undrafted.
Seven cornerbacks were selected in the 2nd round on Friday night with another three in the 3rd round after just one was selected in the 1st round on Thursday night. That means that in the eyes of the NFL, Julian Love was at best the 12th best cornerback in this year’s draft. That is absolutely absurd.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but there will definitely be some guessing for whoever advised Love to leave Notre Dame a year early after his junior season in 2018. At the same time, the concerns most NFL teams have for Love – height and speed – are not anything he could have really worked on much with another year in college.
There are going to be a lot of teams that look back on some reaches that made for corners in the 2nd round while letting Julian Love sit and wait and kick themselves. Tampa Bay for instanced reached for Central Michigan corner Sean Bunting at #39 overall. ESPN had him ranked #62 overall – below Love and many other corners available at the time.
Love didn’t have the eye popping numbers of some corners, but he has what really counts – production. All any NFL team needed to do to see how good Julian Love is and how valuable he was to Notre Dame in 2018 is turn on a tape of the first half of the Cotton Bowl. When Love was in the game, the Tigers struggled to move the ball. When Love left the game with an injury they exploded for a 2nd quarter eruption that sealed the game. When he returned, the Tigers went back to struggling to move the ball.
ESPN currently has Love as the 3rd best available player in the draft as we enter Day 3. They had him ranked 54th overall. The next pick belongs to the Arizona Cardinals at #103 overall. That means some team in the fourth round is about to get some incredible value with Love. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising at this point to see a team trade up in the 4th round to select Love.
Sports Illustrated lists Love as one of their top available prospects entering day 3 as well while expressing some surprise that he is still on the board.
It’s curious that Love is still available after three rounds. The Notre Dame corner was solid in man coverage throughout his career, and, when he got hurt against Clemson in the College Football Playoff, the Irish totally fell apart defensively.
Whoever ends up selecting Julian Love today is going to be getting themselves one of the steals of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Tranquill & Coney Waiting Too
Notre Dame’s stalwart inside linebackers are still waiting to be selected as well. Tranquill is ranked as the best available ILB while Coney is 3rd. The 4th-5th round were about where the projections had both linebackers though so it is not surprising that they are available entering Day 3 of the Draft. Like with Love, some teams will be great value in both Tranquill and Coney at this point.
Entering day 3 of the draft just two Notre Dame players have been selected in the first three rounds – Jerry Tillery by the Chargers in Round 1 and wide receiver Miles Boykin in round three by the Ravens. That is pretty remarkable when you consider that the 2018 Fighting Irish went 12-1 with a spot in the playoffs with just two players selected in the first 102 picks in the NFL Draft.