Bryce Love, the tailback out of Stanford, is one of the biggest question marks heading into the NFL Draft. After playing behind Christian McCaffrey during his first two years at Stanford, Bryce Love absolutely exploded onto the college football scene. In 2017, he put together a Heisman worthy performance, finishing behind only Baker Mayfield in voting at the end of the year. His 2017 stat line: 263 attempts/2,118 yards/19 TD (Yes, 19!!!). The guy was simply amazing. Everyone started trading for 2019 rookie picks in hopes to land the likely 2019 1.01 in their rookie draft. Then 2018 happened…
Love’s 2018 was lackluster to say the least. His state line: 166 attempts/739 yards/6 TD. Granted, he only played in 10 games, but regardless, the tape and numbers speak for themselves. Bryce Love was definitely not the same guy he was in 2017. I’m here to discuss what to expect for Love in the NFL from an injury perspective, so I’ll defer to my fellow draft analysts, Nick Whalen, George Kritikos, and Emory Hunt, to talk more about his strengths and weaknesses as a prospect.
Bryce Love tore the ACL in his right knee during the team’s last game. The Cardinal were driving towards the end zone. Love took the handoff, moved laterally to his right, attempted to cut back to the left, and subsequently lost his footing, causing his right knee to buckle. Initially, Love got up as he always does, but in his discussion with Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, Love admitted that his knee just didn’t feel right after that last carry. Testing later confirmed that he’d torn the ACL in his right knee. His collegiate career is over, but what’s next for the former Stanford RB?
Love tore the ACL on December 1, 2018. The NFL season starts on September 5, 2019. From the date of injury to the start of the season, 9 months will have passed. The average time to recover from an ACL surgery in the NFL is 55 weeks, so Love will be well ahead of that timeline if he is cleared for action in Week 1.
All reports at this point indicate that Love’s knee is on track now about 4 months out from ACL reconstruction surgery. However, given the rehab timeline after surgery, Love was unable to participate in any drills (aside from bench press at 18 reps) at the NFL Combine or the Stanford Pro Day. What he did participate in, however, are the medical checks at the Combine. Players have x-rays and MRIs taken, there is a table exam, and all NFL teams have access to this valuable information. What orthopedic doctors think about a player coming off injury can have a huge impact on how that player is viewed by NFL general managers.
Bryce Love was drafted in the 4th round by the Washington Redskins. His new teammate Derrius Guice is also recovering from an ACL injury. We covered his injury as well.
The fact that he was picked early on day 3 means the Redskins have some confidence in his ability to be a long term asset. However, they won’t get Bryce Love’s best in 2019, and they may not get him at all. With training camps set to open in July and August, Love still won’t be cutting and participating in drills at full speed. This isn’t a knock on Love – it’s just the timeline after ACL surgery. In a best-case scenario, Love is cleared in the first month of the season and serves as a backup in his first year in the NFL, playing more for his team in November and December.
Bryce Love will be a player for 2020 in dynasty leagues. If you draft Love this season, it should be with the understanding that he probably won’t produce at a high level for your roster until next year. Even in December, he’ll be a year out from ACL reconstruction surgery. This is about the time when players return to their pre-injury level. He’ll then have an entire offseason at full strength to train and compete with his teammates in the offseason program and will enter training camp in 2020 without restrictions, making his chance of success in 2020 much more likely than in 2019. Bryce Love will be a perfect buy low candidate in dynasty leagues after the 2019 season.
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