BUILDING AN NFL RESUME: JAKE FROMM, QB, GEORGIA
By Simon Carroll
Heading into his junior year, Jake Fromm is looking to solidify his spot amongst the top tier of college quarterbacks in 2019. Will he take that next step and declare for the NFL Draft? Simon Carroll investigates…
Born in Warner Robins, Georgia. Just two hours south of Sanford Stadium, Jake Fromm was destined to be the quarterback of the Georgia Bulldogs. No stranger to attention, Fromm played baseball as a child in front of 30,000 attendees before being featured on the television show ‘QB1: Beyond The Lights’, chronicling his and two other quarterback’s high school careers.
So it was no wonder that the situation didn’t phase him when he reached college. Initially committing to Alabama, Fromm defected to rivals Georgia when ‘Bama’s defensive co-ordinator Kirby Smart became head coach of the Bulldogs. He followed the guy that recruited him the hardest. The fact that it was to the team he grew up supporting was just a bonus.
Quickly settling into his new home Fromm showed his leadership from spring practice, bellowing orders to his teammates and urging their defense, stacked with seniors, to hurry up. He was unperturbed that highly touted QB Jacob Eason sat above him on the depth chart. Fromm dug into the playbook and took care of his own business, all the while showing his coaches that he was ready if they needed him.
They needed him quicker than they anticipated. In the first game of the 2017 season against Appalachian state, Eason got injured. Fromm stepped in from the first quarter as a true freshman, throwing for 143 yards and a score. Eason never got his job back. Fromm led The Bulldgos to a 13-2 record and an SEC Championship that year, only being denied a fairytale National Championship in a 26-23 overtime loss to Alabama.
In 2018 Fromm improved in almost every statistical category from his freshman year. Despite Georgia falling short in their quest for another playoff appearance The Bulldogs were one of the best teams in the nation, and have huge expectations for this season. With the NFL on the horizon, Fromm will be looking to cement his legacy in Athens whilst showing he has what it takes to compete at the next level.
So without further ado, let’s break down the prospect:
At 6’2” and 220lbs, Jake Fromm looks the part of an NFL quarterback. He has a solid, durable body that will appeal to pro scouts and has proven that it can take a hit. A pocket passer, Fromm is not an elite athlete. He breaks the pocket only on scripted QB runs or under heavy duress, and it isn’t always pretty. Whilst he won’t be tearing off huge gains like Cam Newton or Kyler Murray, he does enough to show he’s willing to tuck it and run when necessary and try and get the hard yards. Ultimately, he’s a hark back to the traditional style of NFL quarterback. Whilst the modern game is much more open to athletic QB’s it doesn’t mean there’s not a place for him at the next level.
As TDN Analyst Jordan Reid suggests it is probably more prudent to study ball placement at the collegiate level than it is to just look at accuracy. There are essential reasons for this; college offenses focus on getting the ball into the hands of their playmakers in space, often short passes which can skew the stats. Sometimes the quality of opponent or indeed the weapons a quarterback is throwing to can be all the difference. Ball placement is less quantitative but nonetheless identifiable when watching gametape.
With regards to the former, Fromm has shown incredible accuracy over his two years ‘between the hedges’. His completion percentage as a freshman clocked in at 61.7%, and he significantly increased that to 67.3% in 2018. Only Tua Tagovailoa was better. Some may point to a stellar supporting cast; Riley Ridley, Terry Godwin and Mecole Hardman is a strong receiving group to utilise. But watch the tape and I would argue that Fromm suffered from chronic drops by his weapons, particularly in the National Championship game in 2017 & the Sugar Bowl against Texas in January. More likely Fromm’s accuracy is helped by a large volume of underneath throws and an elite offensive line offering him a clean pocket to work from. Whatever way you cut it, he certainly isn’t inaccurate.
There are no such questions as to Fromm’s ball placement. On screens, throws out to the flats and shallow crossing routes such as slants, the ball is always put in front of the receiver to take in his stride. This consistency when it comes to ball placement is down to timing. Fromm’s knowledge of the playbooks and his progressions give him time to deliver the football at the right moment.
On intermediate routes such as curls and hooks where the receiver comes back towards the ball, usually beyond the line to gain, Fromm hits them between the numbers. This minimises the opportunity for a corner to come down and stick his hand in the way.
But Fromm is most famous for his back shoulder throws. Utilised up and down the field it becomes more evident in the red zone. With shallow routes that cut to the outside Fromm will feather the ball to the back outside shoulder of his receiver. Allowing them to swivel their hips and corral the ball in a spot that the defender simply cannot get to. Aaron Rodgers has made this kind of pass famous, but there are very few college QB’s who can do it with the accuracy and consistency that Fromm has achieved at Georgia (ignore the screen to the RB before it):
The biggest perceived knock on Fromm is his arm. I’m here to tell you that Fromm can let it rip. I’ve seen him sling it almost 50 yards downfield over the shoulder and into the hands of his receiver. It’s not often a quarterback gets asked to throw it further than that. What is concerning is the throwing motion on these deep passes. Where Fromm is quick to get the ball out on short and intermediate routes, it takes him a long time to wind up his arm for the deep ball. This is obviously problematic in the NFL with edge rushers sticking their hand in and hitting a quarterback’s throwing arm.
He also struggles to put juice on his long pass when pressured or hurried in the pocket. It quickens his throwing motion and he underthrows the football. Whilst generally accurate on the move, Fromm tends to get wayward on the deep pass when out of the pocket, the ball sailing a little to the sidelines. These traits are concerning to NFL scouts because quite often there’s not much you can do to improve a QB’s arm strength. For Fromm, he can tidy up his motion which will help his accuracy under duress, but he’ll never be the big armed quarterback like fellow Bulldog Matthew Stafford. Here’s an example of him short-arming a potential touchdown pass in the National Championship game due to interior pressure. The ball was ultimately intercepted:
Despite that, what impresses me about Fromm is that he understands his limitations. He adjusts the situation to compensate for any physical deficiencies. And whilst he may not have an elite arm, he puts a similar velocity on the ball to DeShaun Watson, who has had a more than strong pro career when healthy.
Jake Fromm is an extremely intelligent football player. He walks into every game prepared for the opponent and in control of his offense. When at the line of scrimmage you see him reading a defense, understanding his progressions and identifying the best chance of success on a a play. He computes quickly as the play develops. His eyes moving from one option to the next as the seconds tick. He understands down and distance and can clock manage when necessary.
NFL scouts will like his understanding of a pro-style offense. Manipulating protections at the line of scrimmage, counteracting the defenses biggest threat and maximising his time in the pocket – another example of him compensating for his lack of mobility. He has operated in both the shotgun and under center. And displayed full field reads since his freshman year – some quarterbacks in the NFL are still unable to do that. When you break it down, it’s unsurprising that The Bulldogs were happy to move on from Eason so quickly.
Fromm rarely throws an interception that is of his own doing. After watching five full game tapes I saw three picks and one was a bad pass. In his career Fromm has 54 touchdowns to just 13 interceptions. However he does take more sacks than he should . You can laud him for standing tall in the pocket and taking the hit but with Fromm there is no such thing as throwing the ball away. It’s something Josh Rosen never did and is struggling to learn to do at the pro level. With his limitations on breaking out of the pocket this is one aspect of the game that the NFL will want him to show growth in throughout this season.
I wouldn’t call it a cocky demeanour, but Jake Fromm walks around with a beaming smile and a rather unflappable nature. One of his best traits is being able to bounce back after a rough play and produce immediately. It is often described as a pre-requisite for quarterback’s to have a ‘short-term memory.’ That’s just hyperbole. QB’s need to learn from mistakes as well as any other position. But to be able to compartmentalise the error and play loose thereafter is a talent. Fromm has that ability.
It takes a certain kind of guts to step into spring practice and start dictating things to established starters. But Fromm’s teammates saw it as a leadership trait that has carried through his 29 starts at Georgia. Quite simply he exudes an aura of being in control, something that most of the top quarterbacks have. It won’t get you far on it’s own, but in the toughest of moments can be the difference between a team buying in and coming through or wilting on the big stage.
Fromm displays clean, crisp footwork on his dropbacks. As discussed he has limited mobility and this can be evident when trying to step up into the pocket. Often he prefers to loiter deeper, hoping to slide left or right and get the ball away. His feet become a little sticky under pressure with no quick twitch to escape the rush, particularly from the interior. His throwing motion is sharp and the ball comes out quick on all but his deep throws. Sometimes his release point is a little ahead of him and a touch low, but he rarely has a pass batted down. His tidy technique allows him to adjust velocity and arc on his passes, alluding to his high completion percentage.
This is something I like to throw in there when evaluating draft prospects. It’s difficult to quantify and as such sometimes irritates people, but the best football players out there have the ability to turn it on when needed. Baker Mayfield is the prime example. I had him as my #1 QB in 2017 in a tight field because he possessed an uncanny ability to make things happen and win. Whilst I think Fromm has dedicated himself to being a better quarterback, and that has undoubtedly led to more wins for the Bulldogs. I’m yet to see the wow moment that makes me a true believer. What we have seen is an impressive jump in passer rating from 107.2 as a freshman (impressive in of itself) to 120.1 last season. With two years of eligibility left there’s plenty of time for Fromm to add that to his game.
FAR TOO EARLY PREDICTION
Starting as a true freshman means Jake Fromm will have played almost 45 games by the end of this season. That to me is a big enough body of work to show the NFL what he is capable of. Unless something goes drastically wrong I assume this will be his last year at Georgia. The intangibles will impress teams, the arm strength and lack of athleticism less so. If Fromm can tidy up his deep throwing motion, reduce the sacks and keep winning, he’ll be on the NFL radar in April.
I would be intrigued to see him in a Sean McVay style offense where he can make reads at the line and get the ball out to playmakers quickly. Maybe The Bengals under Zach Taylor could be a shout? In a field with the big arm of Justin Herbert and the athletic talent of Tua. Fromm looks to be a second or third round pick. Certainly a notch or so below. With his ball security and high football IQ though he could prove to be a day two steal.
previously the founder of nfl draft uk, simon has been covering college football and the nfl draft since 2009. based in manchester, simon is also co-creator & weekly guest of the collapsing pocket podcast.