Bryce Love, RB, 5-9, 196, 4.36 (40 yards), senior
Expectations for 2018:
After his record-breaking junior campaign, Love surprised many with a decision to return to school for his final season. He mentioned the pursuit of his degree (on pace to graduate in December) and the chance to play in the Rose Bowl as motivating factors for why the All-American returned to Stanford in 2018.
It will be tough for him to match his 2017 production (2,118 rushing yards; 8.05 yards per attempts; FBS-record 13 runs of 50 yards or more), but scouts know what he can do as a ball-carrier, flashing the speed and run anticipation that translates well to the NFL.
From an evaluation standpoint, the focus will be on everything else, notably improved consistency as a blocker and receiver.
What the 2017 tape says:
The first thing that jumps off the film is Love's speed. He has an instant accelerator once he has an opening to eliminate pursuit angles and create big plays. His wheels at the second level are the last thing safeties want to see with his ability to set up open-field moves. Love trusts the play design and shows outstanding patience to allow the blockers to do their job. Despite his size, he looks like mighty mouse in pass protection, showing technique and courage to slow down rushers.
While there are no questions about his heart or warrior toughness, Love is undersized and lacks ideal bone structure or muscle mass for the position. He will run through arm tackles, but the run power isn't there to consistently break head-on tackles, especially as an inside runner. The lack of body armor leads to questions about durability mileage in the NFL. Love is also unproven as a pass-catcher, logging only six catches last season.
Love was stuck in Christian McCaffrey's shadow in his first two seasons on campus before emerging as one of college football's best players in 2017, setting an FBS record for yards per carry for players with at least 215 attempts. He benefited from a strong, assignment sound offensive line, which provided gaping holes, but Love did plenty on his own, setting another FBS record with 13 consecutive games with at least one 30-yard carry.
A standout in football and track in high school, Love rushed for 2,259 yards as a senior in high school in North Carolina and was the 2014 4x100 state champion, receiving scholarship offers to run track collegiately. A native of Wake Forest, N.C., he chose to focus on football and, along with his 4.5 high school GPA, committed to Stanford.