Insiders Explain Fromm's Arduous Fall in the 2020 NFL Draft

April 26, 2020
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ATHENS - At the start of the third round of the NFL Draft one of the biggest stories of the event was developing. Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm, both former UGA QBs, had not been taken by a franchise. 

By the end of the fourth round the sporting world, which was watching the draft in huge numbers due to the coronavirus lockdown, had become totally focused on Fromm. 

Why was he “falling” in the draft, and why did he leave UGA early only to get selected so low? 

After all, during the off-season a year ago, CBS had Jake Fromm going No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft. CBS correctly predicted Chase Young going No. 2 and both Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa going in the top six. ESPN’s Mel Kiper had Fromm in his 2020 Top 10 for the NFL Draft a year ago as well. 

Legitimate outlets predicted Fromm would go in the first round. He wound up going No. 167 overall. That’s quite a difference from projection to reality in a single year. Perhaps projections are useless. 

But there is a lot to unpack here. Jake Fromm, arguably the most successful on-campus quarterback in UGA history, left his final chance to win the SEC and the national title a year early to get chosen in the 5th round of the NFL Draft. 

That’s something a lot of UGA fans are having a hard time processing.  

The truth is that Fromm always wanted to play in the NFL. A year ago the signals were coming full and clear that the middle Georgia native was going to go pro if he could after his junior season. 

“Fans should expect both of them to leave after this season. Insiders find it hard to believe Fromm will stick around if he has a first-round grade,” Dawg Post reported on April 28, 2019. 

A rough end of the 2019 season left some doubt out there. 

“There have been more than a few Georgia insiders who are not as sure that Fromm will leave as they were before the season started. The story here is that the feeling has changed from the junior probably leaving to folks not being so sure,” Dawg Post reported late November 2019. 

But the notion that Fromm could leave was always in the air. Even non-first round Fromm was thinking about leaving. Leading up to the draft, rumours swirled about the Saints or Pats taking him as high as the second round - that turned out to be great marketing from Fromm’s agent. At the end of 2020, UGA started making plans to replace Fromm with a transfer quarterback. Only days after Fromm declared that he would leave UGA, Wake Forrest QB Jamie Newman announced he would start graduate school in Athens and play for the Bulldogs. 

By the end of the 2019 season Fromm wasn’t considered a first-round pick. A brutal stretch of performances that started with a three-interception game against south Carolina and ended with a 20-for-42 night against LSU in the SEC Championship Game roughed up Fromm’s chances of going that high in the draft. 

“Fromm just got passed by some guys,” said one NFL insider of Fromm’s fall. He was notably passed by LSU QB Joe Burrow. “Fromm was the hot name coming out the 2018 season. You saw what he did as a freshman, and then he followed that up with a very good 2018. He looked like a guy who could play well on a big stage. You knew he wasn’t the same physically as other guys, but he had the mental part down for sure. But he just didn’t look good in 2019. Obviously that really, really hurt him.”

Fromm’s prowess on the board was the stuff of legend. Jim Chaney was amazed by Fromm’s aptitude right off the bat. But he didn’t have Jacob Eason’s experience or arm strength. Eason would be selected by the Colts in the 4th round after suffering through an anxious Friday night, too. 

But that both former UGA QBs fell below Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts surprised many. 

“The Eagles must want to do something special with him,” said another NFLer. “That’s the only explanation I have for that. I’m not sure I understand that. I don’t think a lot of folks understand that, but they must know something we don’t.”

Jake Fromm was the eighth quarterback selected in the draft in 2020. Did he make the right call leaving? Fromm was punting on a senior season that would have presumably involved the Bulldogs in the mix for another SEC title and playoff appearance. He left, and was the focus of the draft audience for negative reasons - he was the player who fell the furthest… 

“That stuff is impossible to know,” one NFL insider with UGA connections said if Fromm should have come back to school. “I mean, look at Solomon Kindley - that worked out well for him. But maybe Solomon would have been a first rounder next year, or maybe he would have gotten beaten out at UGA in 2020 the way Kirby recruits. It really can be hard to know.”

Fromm before his final game in Silver Britches (Dean Legge/Dawg Post)

“Fromm is someone with a lot of mental horsepower, but the fact of the matter is, when it comes to putting the ball where he needs to put it, he doesn’t have the same ability as some of these other quarterbacks,” ESPN’s Louis Riddick said. 

“The combine hurt Fromm," ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. said on Saturday. "When everyone was there and saw him throw, it impacted where he is right now.”

That turned out to be the No. 167 overall pick. Another issue for Fromm and the other QBs in the draft was the depth of quarterbacks in the league right now. Very few franchises were looking for a signal caller in the draft, and once the first round ended (where teams get five-year contracts with players rather than the standard four-year) the market for QBs dropped. 

For 95 of 96 picks, NFL franchises passed on quarterbacks. The Eagles’ selection of Hurts at No. 53 was the only outlier. He was the only signal caller picked between the end of the first round and the fourth. 

"The waiting has been tough,” Fromm admitted Saturday. “I hated it a little more for my family than for me. It (was a) little longer than expected (to get selected). My entire career I have always been the guy kind of left out. The guy (overlooked). The guy that's not tall enough; not strong enough. I can't do this. I can't do that.”

Still, Fromm played in his final game at UGA in the Sugar Bowl. But senior captain J.R. Reed “decided to rest” his body after “a minor foot injury” to “prepare for what’s to come.”

Like Fromm, Reed’s draft was disappointing as he wound up undrafted and signed a free agent contract with Jacksonville. St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter Chris Tomasson tweeted that Reed’s father Jake “said his son JR Reed wasn't drafted because (he) was medically "flagged" due to (a) torn ACL in high school that has been no issue for years. Called it “crazy”.”

One NFLer’s reaction to that reporting was “I’m not sure what that’s about, but an ACL in high school? No, that’s not why he went undrafted. I don’t know why he didn’t get picked, but an ACL in high school was like seven years ago for Reed. Todd Gurley had an ACL in November and was taken No. 10 overall in 2015. Nick Chubb - and those two were running backs. Jeffery Simmons went in the first round last year after an ACL. I mean Tua this year - folks wouldn’t shut up about his durability issues. I could go on, but you get the point.”

Tags: Jake Fromm
 
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