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Need to win right away as a general manager in the NFL? Better choose your quarterback wisely, then.
We see this often: Ownership tasks a GM to win, and win now. So the GM panics and signs free agents who don’t deserve the blank checks and big jobs they’re offered. Other times, we see these general managers back themselves into a corner by drafting an EJ Manuel or Ryan Tannehill in the first round because they have to get a quarterback.
Don’t be that general manager. Be smarter than forcing it by falling in love with a tools-only quarterback. Instead, make that scouting trip to Athens, Georgia, this summer to watch tape on the most pro-ready NFL quarterback prospect in the 2020 draft class.
Jake Fromm doesn’t look the part as he walks across campus at 6’2″ and 220 pounds. In fact he looks more like a frat president and pretty good intramural quarterback with his politician smile and spiky hair. But underneath the shorts and T-shirt is the leader of the Bulldogs football team who’s heading into his third year as a starter after he took the job from one 5-star recruit and held it off from the challenge of another.
Fromm is battle-tested in the SEC, the country’s toughest conference, and he’s ready to establish himself as NFL-ready in what will likely be his last college season.
Ted S. Warren/Associated Press
To understand why Fromm is so prepared to handle the adversity of an NFL career, you have to go back to his recruitment to Georgia. The Bulldogs had just signed 5-star quarterback Jacob Eason and watched him start 12 games as a true freshman in 2016 en route to an 8-5 record in Kirby Smart’s first season as head coach. Eason was the future, but Fromm still committed to Georgia and quietly set out to win the starting job.
He got that opportunity when Eason went down with a knee injury in the 2017 season opener. Fromm took the field against Appalachian State and earned a win. He lost just two games that year: at Auburn and in overtime against Alabama in the national championship game.
The 2017 season ended with big expectations, but Fromm then had to play the role of returning quarterback and fend off a red-hot recruit in Justin Fields. The Kennesaw, Georgia, native and 5-star recruit was the No. 2 overall player in the 2018 class. Big (6’3″, 221 lbs), fast and a dual threat that Fromm would never be, Fields generated a buzz throughout the football world that he would soon overtake the incumbent QB and force a transfer.
But just like Eason, who is now at Washington, Fields found his plans halted by the seemingly unremarkable Fromm and transferred to Ohio State after the season.
Adversity? Fromm can handle it. On and off the field. He beat out two 5-star recruits to win and keep the starting job while earning praise from teammates, scouts and coaches along the way. His poise and a quiet toughness are already exciting NFL teams as he heads into his third season in Athens.
Seeing Fromm in person against LSU last October highlighted his potential for struggles—on a hot, loud day in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he had the worst contest of his career while completing 47.1 percent of his passes and watching Georgia’s national-title hopes fall apart.
But how Fromm handled himself after that, including in a 301-yard, three-touchdown performance in the SEC title-game loss to Alabama, showed NFL scouts he had the resiliency and football IQ the position demands. And that’s why Fromm gets the nod as the draft’s most pro-ready quarterback over the more hyped Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa.
“Mentally, he’s like [Andrew] Luck,” said one AFC scouting director. “He doesn’t wow you in practice watching him throw because he’s a little small and doesn’t have a huge arm, but he knows where to go with the ball and makes the right decisions. That counts for more than 4.4 speed or a cannon arm,” he added.
Fromm, to scouts, is more Mitchell Trubisky with his accuracy and body type than someone with boundless athleticism or great arm strength. He’s more Jared Goff as a savvy, experienced, methodical passer than Carson Wentz and his freestyle play. He’s quiet and poised, which doesn’t always lead to the most obvious Baker Mayfield-style leadership, but it works.
David J. Phillip/Associated Press
Fromm does have to prove himself—even to loyal Georgia fans who liked the potential of Fields over Fromm’s steady style of play—but NFL teams are already on board. A career 64.9 percent passer, Fromm has the exciting field vision, touch and football IQ that can cover up any size or athletic deficiencies.
Teams that need to win now—whether that’s the Miami Dolphins if Josh Rosen doesn’t pan out or the Cincinnati Bengals after Andy Dalton—would be wise to bet on the steadiness of Fromm over the potential of others.
It’s the high ceiling/high floor debate. Fromm is ready to play but doesn’t have the potential of Herbert or Tagovailoa. He also played in more of a pro-style offense at Georgia, which doesn’t allow for exciting, highlight-worthy plays. Instead, you get a ton of accurate, on-time passes and smart plays. Those don’t get as many views on Instagram, but they result in victories.
Teams that have an edict to win and win quickly will see in Fromm a player who can compete, lead and get victories immediately. Keep that in mind if you’re running teams such as the Buccaneers or Titans and are ready to move on at the position.