Rookie Rundown: RB Bryce Love, Stanford

Rookie Rundown: RB Bryce Love, Stanford

NFL Draft

Rookie Rundown: RB Bryce Love, Stanford

By

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

When Stanford running back Bryce Love announced he would return for his senior season in 2018, plenty of people questioned his decision following a 2,118-yard effort on the ground in 2017. He would go on to suffer a lingering ankle injury before ultimately tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament in the regular-season finale.

Despite being poised for a much stronger placement in the 2018 NFL Draft than what he faces now, Love was determined to return to school to finish his human biology degree and better position himself for a career as a pediatrician after his NFL days are up.

Height: 5-foot-9
Weight: 200 pounds
40 time: N/A

A world-class track star as young as 11 years old, Love set the United States record for the 100- and 400-meter events and placed first in the 200 at the U.S. Track and Field Junior Olympics. He was a dominant prep football running back, as well, and after sitting behind Christian McCaffrey for two years, Love showed his true ability in the ’17 season. He showed a nose for the end zone and ran for a long of at least 31 yards in every game that season.

RB Bryce Love, Stanford — stats (2016-18)

Year
Att
Yards
Avg.
TD
Long
Rec
Yards
Avg.
TD
Long
Fum
2015
29
226
7.8
2
48
15
250
16.7
1
93
0
2016
111
783
7.0
3
59
8
83
10.4
1
49
0
2017
263
2,118
8.1
19
75
6
33
5.5
0
12
0
2018
166
739
4.5
6
59
20
99
4.9
0
15
0

Love flashed like crazy during his limited work behind McCaffrey prior to winning the Doak Walker Award for the nation’s best running back in 2018. Love would go on to finish second to Baker Mayfield in the Heisman Trophy voting.

It is mostly unfair to hold the 2018 numbers over his head. He fought an ankle sprain much of the year and wasn’t 100 percent healthy.

Pros

  • Extremely competitive and hard working — praised by Stanford running backs coach Ron Gould for being almost too committed to bettering himself
  • Fast and explosive — some guys require a wind up to get to top speed, and he isn’t one of them
  • A home run waiting to happen but shows patience as a runner
  • Understanding of angular awareness is impeccable — look at the 2017 UCLA tape and admire the nuanced ability to glide past defenders simply by knowing the precise angle to take
  • Can get through small holes and utilize his size to disappear in a sea of humanity, exploding into the secondary before anyone realizes it
  • Runs tougher than his size suggests but can blend in degrees of all styles, displaying power, speed, elusiveness, and intellectual advantages
  • Stronger receiver than his role at Stanford indicates
  • Experienced in a pro-style offense and running from just about every formation one can imagine
  • Mentally and physically tough — discussed after tearing his ACL how it taught him patience and not to dwell on the negatives in life. Played through injury as a senior

Cons

  • While the reconstructive surgery has been nearly perfected in recent years, there’s always that “what if” concern, especially with running backs … also, was the injury-riddled 2018 due to a large workload the year before?
  • Could struggle to run through NFL defenders and/or pick up additional yardage after contact
  • He does better when lanes are created for him and may need to operate out of a zone-blocking system to be at his best
  • Uses a lot of energy to make modest gains
  • Questionable in pass protection
  • May be viewed as a two-down, system-restricted back

Fantasy football outlook

The injury will cost him dearly in the draft;  Love now probably falls into Rounds 5 or 6. This could prove to be a steal for his NFL team, and it’s fair to assume his new coaching staff won’t get much of anything from Love in 2019.

His injury was so late in the year that he’s poised to miss most all of the meaningful offseason work, which is exceptionally important for a rookie. … Then it comes down to getting up to speed on and off the field, earning the trust of his coaches, and becoming comfortable trusting in his own knee.

Love could emerge late in the year in the right situation. The long-term value is ridiculously intriguing. Fantasy owners can mostly write him off in 2019. Love has No. 2 potential for 2020 and beyond, provided he lands in an optimal situation.

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