The state of Georgia is no stranger when it comes to producing NFL talent. Focusing solely on quarterback, Cam Newton and Deshaun Watson hail from the Peach State. University of Georgia prospect Jake Fromm looks to join the ranks of his fellow Georgians at the next level.
High School Breakdown
Fromm played at Houston County High School, where he was renowned for his level demeanor as well as his ability to stay loose. Fromm almost broke Watson’s Georgia state passing record of 13,077 yards, coming just 261 yards shy. During his senior year, Fromm produced a winning performance over the second-ranked Northside High School which consisted of 530 passing yards and four touchdowns to go along with 122 rushing yards and another touchdown.
His high school career, with his senior campaign being the cherry on top, led to him being nationally ranked, top-10 in his position. ESPN had Fromm ranked 132nd overall in the 2017 recruiting class. This led to multiple heralded universities - including Alabama, Georgia, Miami, and Michigan State - offering him scholarships. Fromm initially committed to Alabama, but then de-committed and signed a letter of intent with the Georgia Bulldogs. Fromm decided to change his mind due to the fact that Coach Kirby Smart had just become the head coach for Georgia and the relationships between quarterback and head coach was extremely important to him. This - along with the fact that Fromm grew up watching Georgia football - was ultimately what solidified his decision.
College – Freshman Year
Fromm began his freshman year at Georgia behind sophomore Jacob Eason on the depth chart. Eason had earned the starting role during the 2016 season and held on to the top spot going into 2017. During the first game of the 2017 season, Eason injured his knee, allowing Fromm to take the reigns of the Bulldogs offense. Once Fromm was given his chance he made it count, leading Georgia to the SEC Championship, as well as earning a spot in the National Championship game against Alabama. Fromm totaled 2,615 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, and just seven interceptions on the season. The 24-7 INT/TD ratio cannot be understated while playing against SEC defenses, considering the top six defenses in the conference on average held teams to 20 or fewer points per game, as well as forcing opponents to turn the ball over approximately one and a half times per game.
Georgia dominated Auburn 28-7 in the SEC Championship, which led to a matchup with Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl, the semi-final before the championship game. During this game, Fromm, being a freshman - playing against a potent offense, consisting of Baker Mayfield, Marquise Brown, and CeeDee Lamb, paired with a 68th nationally ranked defense - did not disappoint. Georgia defeated Oklahoma, with Fromm going 20/29 for 210 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. The following game was against Alabama, which ended with Alabama winning the National Championship 26-23. Fromm suffered under the onslaught of Alabama’s defense, producing 232 passing yards and one touchdown to go along with two interceptions and four sacks. The loss was disappointing, but the experience gained for a young quarterback was immeasurable.
College – Sophomore Year
Eason ended up transferring to the University of Washington, which led to Fromm being the unchallenged starter. Fromm’s progression from his first to his second year was eye-catching. He improved in every statistical category, excluding his rushing numbers. His completion percentage improved by nearly five percent. His passing yardage went from 2,615 yards to 2,761 yards, and his touchdowns went from 24 to 30. While doing this he also decreased his season interceptions from seven to six.
Fromm’s NFL prospects have seemed to grow brighter. During his sophomore year, Fromm led his Bulldogs to an 11-1 record during the regular season, leading to the SEC Championship, where they would have a National Championship rematch against Alabama. Fromm was sacked during his first pass attempt, inspiring memories from the previous year. Fromm received help from his rushing game this time thanks to Elijah Holyfield and Deandre Sweat, but his passing was a thing of beauty. Fromm’s touchdown in the early third quarter was a sight to behold. Riley Ridley had one-on-one coverage and Fromm put the ball over his shoulder leading him to the side of the end zone where only Ridley would be able to pull it in.
While I can enjoy this touchdown, I am sure it is not a fond memory for Georgia fans, considering it was the last time they would score for the entire game. If you do not remember, this is a game that was tied 28-28 late in the fourth quarter, when head coach Smart decided to fake a punt on his own side of the field. This move inevitably failed and led to Alabama scoring a game-winning touchdown with a minute remaining.
While the SEC Championship loss is disappointing, as well as the loss to Texas that followed, the progression by Fromm is not. His sophomore season has led to him being projected as an early first-round NFL draft pick.
Measuring in at 6’2” 220lbs, Fromm has the look of a pocket-passing NFL quarterback. While his athleticism in the pocket has led to much praise, his inability to run will limit him as a dual-threat quarterback, which has slowly erupted as the mold the NFL is starting to cherish. This does not scare me. While Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon’s Justin Herbert have been the talk of the town, Fromm seems to have the true characteristics, physical and intangible, to become a starting NFL quarterback. From playing in the Little League World Series, to setting high-school records, to battling Alabama in championship games, Fromm has stood tall and produced when the pressure was greatest.
Looking into the future of the 2020 NFL Draft, there seems to be a handful of quarterback needy teams. The team that will have a need for quarterback and most likely have a top-11 draft pick is the Cincinnati Bengals. Fromm should be attainable due to the wide receiver talent that is sure to fill the top-10 on most teams’ draft boards. Placing Fromm with the Bengals, teamed up with new head coach Zac Taylor, enables him to learn a new system in a low-pressure situation. Fromm has become a pro-style passer with razor sharp accuracy, mobility within the pocket, and the ability to withstand pressure. This will be a nice improvement in comparison to Andy Dalton, who when pressured has a passer-rating of 57.1, seventh worst in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. The Bengals’ wide receivers, A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd, are both at the end of their contracts after the 2019 season, meaning they will be unrestricted free agents going into the 2020 season. These question marks most likely mean the team will go through a rebuilding phase, where Fromm can become accustomed to the NFL speed, hone his skills, and prepare to lead the Bengals into a new era of winning.