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Jordan Morgan driven to protect Jordan Love

Packers’ first-round pick is no stranger to overcoming adversity, skeptics

T Jordan Morgan
T Jordan Morgan

GREEN BAY – Jordan Morgan barely had warmed the seat in his locker before his new quarterback stopped by last week to greet the Packers' rookie first-round pick.

"He dapped me up and said what's up to me," said Morgan prior to the first practice of Green Bay's rookie minicamp last week. "When I looked at him, I kind of froze like, 'Oh, that's Jordan Love.'"

A 37-game starting left tackle at Arizona, Morgan needed no introduction to the man whom he hopes to protect for years to come in Green Bay. Love's late-season heroics, including a near-flawless performance in a 48-32 playoff win over Dallas, solidified the 25-year-old quarterback as one of the league's most exciting up-and-comers.

Morgan was among the 40 million viewers who tuned into the NFC Divisional playoff game and came away impressed by the resiliency and moxie of the young Packers squad. Like his new team, Morgan's journey has been one of resolve and determination.

Morgan's path to becoming the 25th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft was no easy endeavor. A college career first interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic hit a major pothole when Morgan sustained a non-contact knee injury while blocking on a screen against UCLA in the Wildcats' third-to-last game of the 2022 season.

Two days later, an MRI confirmed Morgan had torn his anterior cruciate ligament. Instead of preparing for the NFL Draft, the 6-foot-5, 311-pound offensive lineman was now facing a possible one-year recovery and cloudy football future.

"I didn't know a lot about the ACL stuff and how long the process took," Morgan said. "I was like, 'Oh, probably a couple months,' and they're like, 'Yeah, it's probably like more than a year before you can step back on the field.' That's when all the thoughts started flooding in.

"What am I going to do? What are my decisions gonna be like? How are other teams gonna look at me? How are my coaches going to think of me? How are teammates going to think of me?"

Raised just outside of Tucson, Morgan's first move after he found out about his diagnosis was to drive to his Marana, Ariz., home and talk things out with his parents John and Anna, who were his support system through what turned out to be a nine-month rehab process.

The first two weeks post-op played out on the family couch, as the immobilized Morgan waited for his parents to get home to drive him to his rehab. As soon as Morgan was mobile enough to transport himself, the future first-round pick rehabbed up to three times per day in an effort to slowly cut into his timeline. The process required patience Morgan didn't know he possessed.

"Before that (injury), I just wanted to get everything done quickly and get on the field," Morgan said. "It wasn't like that. It took months and months. Being able to stay down and stay undercover until I got back right and got cleared, it was something I really had to work on."

Determined and focused, Morgan returned to the field in time for Arizona's 2023 opener against Northern Arizona and started 12 games for a Wildcats team that produced double-digit wins for the first time in nearly a decade. For his efforts, Morgan was named first-team All-Pac-12.

The injury didn't diminish his draft stock, either, as the Packers swooped in to draft Morgan in the first round of a talent-rich draft on the offensive line. His arm length came into question during the pre-draft process, but Green Bay believes Morgan has everything it takes to be a quality left tackle at the next level.

A left tackle his entire life, the 22-year-old rookie was lined up at his traditional post during last week's rookie minicamp, showcasing the explosiveness that Morgan's 5.04 time in the 40 and 1.70 split hinted at during the pre-draft process.

"He's got good movement skills," offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich said. "He's a natural on the edge. He looks comfortable out there. There's obviously some technique stuff we've got to clean up, just like anybody, but I'm excited to work with him."

Morgan keeps a fairly low profile off the field. He doesn't have an X account and keeps his social-media interactions to a minimum. Morgan still knows there will be some naysayers but is driven to validate the Packers' belief. In many ways, Morgan's story closely mirrors Green Bay's other "Jordan," whom General Manager Brian Gutekunst traded up to select 26th overall a little more than four years ago.

"I followed the breakout," said Morgan of Love. "I saw when that happened and that's really special for him. Everybody loves him here, obviously, and I want to be that one tackle to protect him."

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