The Green Bay Packers will have voluntary OTAs this week with players reporting on Monday for a few days of offseason work to start preparations for the 2022 NFL season.
There is a lot going on at OTAs including the first opportunity for many draft picks and other rookies to have extensive exposure to veteran players as they continue to learn the playbook and what coaches expect of them.
One thing to focus on at OTAs is the opportunity given to backup quarterback Jordan Love. The Packers 2020 first-round draft pick will be getting the majority of the reps at OTAs since starter Aaron Rodgers will not be participating in drills although Rodgers indicated he will be at the Packers facility for part of this month’s OTAs.
Love was selected to be the heir apparent to Rodgers. When Packers GM Brian Gutekunst traded up and drafted the former Utah State star, the pick proved controversial. Most scouts believed Love had the potential to become a quality starting quarterback but that he would need a few years of development to reach that level.
Love didn’t see the field during his rookie season. Rodgers stayed healthy and Tim Boyle served as the backup while Love was third on the depth chart. Because of the pandemic, Love’s reps were limited even in practice. There were no preseason games. OTAs were done virtually and training camp was truncated.
In 2021, Love finally got significant offseason reps. The Packers played three preseason games and Love played extensively in two of them while missing the third with an injury. Boyle left the team to sign with Detroit so Love stepped up and became the team’s primary backup.
During the regular season, Love saw substantial action in three regular season games. The Packers were blown out in the season opener and Love saw mop up duty. He got his first NFL start when Rodgers entered Covid protocols in Week 9 in Kansas City and then he played the second half of the Week 18 game in Detroit when Matt LaFleur rested many of his starters including Rodgers.
Love’s performance was mixed. He completed 36-of-62 passes for 411 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. His passer rating was a very pedestrian 68.7.
There were a few plays which showcased Love’s raw talent and why he was a first-round pick, but there were many plays where he looked indecisive and seemed to lack confidence. He was making progress but clearly still had a long way to go. Meanwhile, Rodgers won his fourth career NFL MVP award and his second in a row.
Love got better at making reads on his second and third options and his arm strength was evident, but he still needs to improve his ability to read defenses and the mechanics on his footwork. He also needs to show a bit more confidence in his game.
At OTAs, it will be Love who will get most of the work with the receiving corps. The former first-round pick is still making up for lost time and needs to get as many reps in as possible. It will also give him a chance to work with nearly the entire receiving corps from returning veterans to rookies like Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure.
Because Rodgers will not be on the field running drills, the task will fall mostly on Love and that’s a good thing. Love has a chance to show the coaching staff and his teammates that he is making progress and still has the potential to develop into a quality starting quarterback in this league.
At one of his draft press conferences, Gutekunst addressed Love’s situation amid rumors the team may look to trade him during the draft. “He’s going into his third year. He certainly showed really good signs last year of improvement and I’m excited for him this preseason to get a bunch of work,” Gutekunst said. “I think his future is bright. As far as what his future is with us, we’ll kind of see how that goes, obviously, with what we’ve done with Aaron and how long Aaron wants to play.”
Whether Love’s future is with the Packers or elsewhere, he needs to show NFL scouts what he’s capable of accomplishing on the field. That is the goal for Love as he begins his third season in the NFL.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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