Last week, we discussed Kentucky cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. and his potential fit with the Cowboys defense. The idea was that while many of his coverage skills are raw and need substantial development, his height/weight/length fit exactly what Kris Richard tends to look for.
Notre Dame's Julian Love is almost the opposite of this. The 5'11” 190 pound cornerback is far from the “long and strong” prototype which may catch Richard's eye, but his man coverage skills are as refined as you'd hope for in a day two/three pick.
Julian Love put up outstanding numbers while at Notre Dame, capping it all off with a 63 tackle (3 for loss), 16 pass deflection, 1 interception 2018 season. The pass deflection production is a good indication of what Love's ball skills are like, with good timing and reaction skills when the ball is put on him.
Love's best trait is his man coverage, specifically his off-coverage technique. He is excellent at playing off the receiver, and then breaking forward to contest the catch with excellent timing. This reliance on timing could result in some pass interference calls at times if he arrives too early, though. Love has good speed as well, and can carry receivers vertically in man coverage as well as break with them suddenly to stay in good position.
Love is a good tackler, especially for a cornerback. Sometimes he will get sloppy in his technique in the open field, diving at the legs of the ball carrier, but more often than not he wraps up and is reliable as a tackler on the outside. He's not exactly a top-tier run support cornerback, but he's certainly not a liability either.
What would worry me most about drafting Julian Love are his measurables, though we don't know what they are officially just yet. I'm really interested to see what his arm length is at the combine, as well as what he runs in the 40. He doesn't appear to have any athletic trait which jumps off the page, though he is good enough in those categories to remain solid on the field. A good combine performance would likely propel him well out of the Cowboys' range.
I sought out to watch prospects which the Dallas Cowboys could have a chance of drafting in the second round. But the more I watched Julian Love, the more I thought he must be a top 5-6 cornerback in this draft class.
And if that's the case, they probably won't have a chance to make him a Dallas Cowboy anyway. With that being said, Love is going to be a starting cornerback in the NFL. And he will be that just about immediately.
I believe he will be better on the outside than in the slot, making him an attractive prospect for Dallas depending on how they plan to handle Byron Jones' and Anthony Brown's contract situations next offseason.
Though he doesn't have the body type to fit what Kris Richard tends to covet, he is certainly a solid man cover corner who will make his money in that type of scheme. I wouldn't ask him to drop in cover three often at all. In fact, I don't want him playing much zone coverage whatsoever. But as a man corner Julian Love will find himself taken within the first two rounds of the NFL Draft.