Dear NFL GMs,
My name is Bryce Love, and I’m the best running back in this draft.
You might know me from 2017.
Or maybe you know the numbers I put up that year — 2,118 rushing yards, more than eight yards per carry, 19 rushing touchdowns, 12 games of more than 100 yards on the ground, and an FBS record 13 runs of 50 yards or more.
Many athletes might have been content with that resume. But not me. I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted more. And I feel that 2018 made me a better all-around player. So that’s what I’d like to talk about here. Because while it may not have always shown up in the box score, I grew a lot this past season. And I’m an ever better back today than I was in 2017.
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports
First, let’s address the elephant in the room – the decision. I decided to return to Stanford to finish the job. To get my degree, and present to the NFL the very best version of Bryce Love — the best running back for your team that I could be.
I know that some people are wondering about my durability, but let’s dig in and really examine that. In four seasons at Stanford, I only missed four games total. I tore my ACL in the very last game of my collegiate career, giving everything I could to score and help my team defeat our biggest rival. That desire to win is coming with me to whichever franchise drafts me.
So looking back on my decision today, in retrospect, knowing what I know about how the season went….
I’d make the same exact choice.
During my senior year, I gained so much both on and off the field. I have matured – not just as a football player, but a person. And I was also able to graduate from one of the top schools in the world. Graduating puts me in the best possible position to focus on football and position myself for success throughout life.
Lastly, I came back because of the commitment I gave to Stanford and my teammates when I signed my letter of intent. I always want to be the best football player and teammate I can possibly be. In my mind, these things culminate into a long, productive, Super Bowl–winning NFL career.
I can tell you straight up that I’ve grown by leaps and bounds over the past year in terms of being a complete, do-it-all running back.
Actually, strike that. I can show you.I can tell you straight up that I’ve grown by leaps and bounds over the past year in terms of being a complete, do-it-all running back.
Those videos up above, don’t get me wrong … they’re exciting. It’s great to run fast, hurdle defenders, break tackles and stiff-arm dudes on your way to the end zone.
But here’s what I’m talking about right now. Keep an eye on the middle linebacker coming in hot.
Pass protection, man. It’s so important — crucial really. And I’m all about it at this point.
It may not be sexy. And it doesn’t end up with a cool celebration in the end zone, but if you want to be considered a top-flight back in the league you better know how to protect your franchise quarterback. You better be able to pick up blitzes, and stand up linebackers, and pretty much have eyes in the back of your head.
I honestly believe that pass protection has now become one of the things I’m best at. And I take immense pride in that — in keeping my quarterback clean.
Whereas before I was a guy who could take it to the house and be a threat on first and second down, now I’m someone who has worked hard to become a legitimate three-down back. I’m a guy who can help your team make big plays, and win games, even when I don’t have the ball. And that’s huge. When you talk to young backs in the league, the one thing you hear over and over again is how important it is to be able to pass protect in order to earn the trust of your coaches and teammates. It’s something that’s very difficult to learn and to be able to execute on a consistent basis. With some players, they come into the NFL and pretty much have to get up to speed on all that stuff from scratch. It keeps guys on the sidelines.
Well, with me, now … you’re not going to have to worry about that.
Because I AM a complete back.
I can still take it to the house and do everything you’d expect out of a great runner, and do damage catching the ball out of the backfield.
But now I can also be relied on to keep the pocket clean so the offense can connect on that deep shot to the post.
The other big thing I improved on this past year had to do with understanding the offense, and various schemes and strategies for moving the ball. However, great football is not just about knowing the offense, I become keenly aware of various defensive formations and strategies — including loading the box to stop the run.
I was able to fully understand why we were doing different things and exactly why we were attacking defenses in certain ways. I was constantly asking coaches questions and studying film, and just going a few extra layers deep in my comprehension of what happens on the field. So while I definitely got bigger and stronger and faster last year, I also worked my tail off to become smarter. I was able to learn everything about the various looks that defenses were giving us. I studied offensive-line movement, protection schemes, passing-route progressions, you name it. I had never been a slouch at that stuff in the past, but I gotta say … the difference now is night and day.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
I’m not big into social media, and I don’t even look at mock drafts, so I couldn’t tell you where most experts think I’ll be picked.
All I know is where I should be selected on April 25 — in the first round, as the first running back off the board.
That’s not me being cocky, or trying to and act all big and bad, or doubting the abilities of other guys. It’s just simply based on a knowledge of what I can do — of what I’ve shown I can do, the résumé I put together at Stanford. I want to be the best to ever do it, and I won’t stop working until I get there. Let my résumé speak for itself. Maybe last year at this time some people kind of saw me as just a speed guy, but now I’ve shown that I can do so much more, with the improvements I’ve made in pass protection, and my blocking and receiving skills. And even though I can definitely still post a 4.3 40 time in my sleep, I can also just plain run people over if I need to.
I can do whatever you need from me on the football field, for sure, but another big reason why I’m confident about being the best back in this draft has nothing even to do with football, really.
When you draft Bryce Love, you’re going to be getting someone who is the ultimate team player — a man who invites expectations and holds himself to the highest of standards when it comes to being an exceptional teammate and a standup person. I’m someone who leads by example in every facet of my life, and if you talk to me for five minutes it will be easy to tell that I’m ready for anything that the NFL can throw at me.I’m someone who leads by example in every facet of my life.
I’m also ready to dedicate everything I have to an organization, and a city, and a community. I truly feel like that’s all a part of the deal. If you’re drafting me, you’re not just getting Bryce Love the player, you’re getting Bryce Love the Stanford human biology grad, the guy who loves to read and study, the worker, the consummate teammate, the role model for kids in your town, and the guy who wants to be the face of your franchise for years and years.
The total package.
I want to begin setting an example, and a high standard, from the get-go. Day One. And I can promise you that I’m going to do everything in my power to immediately earn the trust and respect of every single person affiliated with your organization, and every fan who roots for your team.
Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
I have no ego when it comes to teamwork. I will do whatever the team needs of me. Period.
This past season at Stanford that sometimes meant coaching up the younger backs, or giving emotional pep talks even when I might have been feeling down about not playing, or … heck, carrying water for my guys and making sure they were fully hydrated when I wanted nothing more than to be out there on the field.
That kind of stuff? That’s just my nature. It’s who I am.
An injury? Some setbacks my senior year? That stuff’s temporary. It’s in the rearview mirror. I don’t even think about that stuff anymore. I’m ready to do big things. That’s why I’m confident when I say I’m the top back in this class.
And if you select me in the draft, you’ll see what I mean firsthand. I can’t wait to show you what I can do — who I am — in person.
I’m still the same back you remember from 2017, but now I’m even better. I will be ready to go for 2019 training camp, and I can’t wait to get to work.