Not so fast my friend

By George Somerville

Are Jake Fromm and Jalen Hurts getting a raw deal pre Draft? @geosomerville says Not So Fast and throws his tuppenceworth into the ongoing quarterback debate ahead of the NFL Draft.

It seems odd to be writing about SEC quarterbacks being shown a lack of respect in the lead up to the 2020 draft when LSU’s Joe Burrow and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa will almost certainly be picked in the top five.

The Debate

As often happens at this time of year, risers and fallers in the draft stock index ebb and flow as discussion gets ever more heated. Inevitably it is the quarterbacks who are most hotly debated and almost certainly some will become hot picks as experts battle to uncover the next great thing. Such is the demand to find a franchise quarterback, teams will over analyse and overthink and almost certainly panic the pick to get the next Brady, Brees or Rodgers.

So, if I were a betting person, I imagine Jordan Love and Justin Herbert will be drafted in the top 15 and maybe even, top 10.

Yet  Jake Fromm and Jalen Hurts stocks have been falling and it has become fashionable, almost pleasurable to knock these guys for their failings.

While I am not opposed to the thought of Love and Herbert as NFL quarterbacks, the thought of a first round pick being used, to me, seems absurd.

Perhaps this is starting to sound a little bitter but lets start to get into the detail.

Both Jake Fromm and Jalen Hurts are currently viewed as round 2 or 3 candidates. But given the traits they have demonstrated through college, the tape they have put together and the success they have had as college players is this knocking of them justified?

And yes I know Hurts finished his career as a Sooner but for all intents and purposes was with the Crimson Tide for the vast majority of his college experience.

SEC Football - It just means more

While this week we have debated the size of quarterbacks hands to the nth degree, often what is easily overlooked is a players actual playing experience.

As a result there has been a lot of talk about ceilings and floors and hand sizes and speed over 40 yards. But I am really interested in what experience these guys bring. What’s their QB intellect and can they really handle the pressure of being QB1 from day 1.

Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Jake Fromm and Jalen Hurts have all started in the SEC consistently playing in big games. Huge games. In fact each has played in a National Championship game. Fun fact, of the four Joe Burrow is the one with the least SEC playing experience.

All four have played in front of home crowds exceeding 80,000 week in, week out with absurd fan base expectations. Every other Saturday they visit stadiums with rabid home fan bases louder than a jet plane. My point is pressure. These kids are used to pressure, week in, week out

Not So Fast
Photo Credit : USA Today

Jake from State

Jake Fromm gets a lot of flack. But yet, Jake Fromm has a 36-7 winning record in the SEC. He is also the first starter in SEC history to lead his team to three consecutive East Division Championships. He did this in 2019 with a team which had lost its top five receivers from the year before and which had lost six of the 2019 receivers at different times of the season through injury.

Jalen Hurts record is more impressive. In four years Hurts won an SEC title, a National Championship and a BIG 12 Championship. During Hurts’ Freshman year he threw for 2,780 yards and 23 touchdowns. In addition he rushed for 954 yards, scoring 13 touchdowns in the process. Let me stress – In his first year in college. And he wasn’t a one season wonder. At Oklahoma he threw for 3,347 yards, 31 touchdowns, 6 interceptions and ended the season with a QBR of 90.5.

Watch Justin Herbert in Oregon’s game against Arizona State when a College Football Play Off was on the line. Win against the Sun Devils and the Ducks were almost certainly in the final four. Lose and they were out. Well, lose they did and Herbert looked a shadow of the player he had been previously. Which in 2019 was a shadow of the player he had been in 2018.

Yes, people are getting annoyed at the accusation that Herbert is quiet and not a locker room leader. But when the season is on the line I know what I want. And its not Herbert.

Leaders of Men

Source: QBR = Career passing efficiency

Both Hurts and Fromm have led their teams from the front. Fromm is as popular a guy in the Georgia locker room as has ever been. Hurts walked into the Sooners locker room like he had been there since freshman year.

This is what the scouts call intangibles.

In other words, intelligence between the ears, experience and maturity.

But while I feel the intangibles are often overlooked in something akin to snobbery, the criticism is not solely this. Its about fundamentals. Arm strength, passing accuracy, ball security and physical make up. It might be somewhat flippant and disingenuous but if we’re comparing hand size, then I’m going #1 in the draft in front of Joey “tiny hands” Burrow. Its just another stat which means absolutely nothing.

But lets take a look at these fundamentals and the statistics which these guys demonstrated during their college careers. Lets see where the great disparity lies. I have set out some KPI’s above. We could debate the merit of these all day but these set out a reasonable overview of each players college career. All four played in either PAC12, SEC or Big 12 so the comparison can be made, I think with some degree of consistency.

And remember this when weighing up stats. Fromm, much like AJ McCarron at Alabama, was used in a run heavy offensive scheme which meant he was quickly labelled a “game manager”.

So the intangibles tell me that Fromm and Hurts are leaders of men, the fundamentals and stats also show me they compare very favourably with those who are being touted as better value picks.

Love Hurts

The combine was a good outing for Hurts with many including Matt Miller commenting about the work which Jalen Hurts has being doing with his QB coach. It is likely then that Hurts starts to move up draft boards.

Equally with Fromm, Jim Nagy weighed in with some supportive comments on the tape they had seen on Fromm. While I think the Combine was less successful for Jake Fromm, I don’t think it taught scouts anything new.

“The more Jake Fromm tape we watch the more we like him. He’s got more arm talent than we’ve given him in the past”, said Nagy.

On paper Fromm didn’t have a ground breaking combine, but in many ways I don’t think he showed us anything new – positive or negative. And this is why Fromm will continue to divide opinion. But I look on this as a positive. He remains a very consistent performer. Which strangely seems to be looked on as a negative. Fromm falls into that Game Manager box.

Not So Fast
Jalen Hurts throws at the 2020 NFL Combine. Photo Credit: USA Today

Smoke & Mirrors

But of course we’re in that space in the calendar where teams and scouts are setting smokescreens all over the place. So now we hear that the Dolphins dont want Tua. Instead the Fins love Love. Oh wait, now they’re trading up to #1 for Joey B who they really love. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

So in this respect it doesn’t matter what I or anyone else thinks. The only people who matter in this scenario are sitting in the NFL war rooms on draft night. They have weighed up all the fundamentals and intangibles and will pick their guy. But equally we have seem some bizarre picks in the past and while much of mock draft season is best guess work, it is also based on the chatter doing the rounds.

Incidentally I have just read a headline which says “Tua Tagovailoa will be a boom or a bust in the NFL with no middle ground”. In the no shit of the greatest no shit Sherlock statements, this about sums it up. Frankly, if you haven’t worked out by now that every draft pick, especially first rounders are a boom or bust, then you haven’t worked any of this out yet.

Pick Jake and Jalen. They will serve you well.

If you want to know everything about the 2020 Draft, visit the Touchdown’s Draft Hub.

Mock Draft

george somerville

College football writer