We know that Buffalo isn’t exactly the most ideal landing spot for the Georgia quarterback, Jake Fromm. What will his role look like in the NFL?
Day three of the NFL Draft started with the usual fanfare; people getting excited for the last day of the draft and special prospects being identified as potential NFL targets on ESPN’s simulcast. Two quarterbacks who were widely regarded as upper-level prospects and potential first-round picks still remained on the board; Washington quarterback Jacob Eason, the big arm, and Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm, the smart west-coast quarterback.
Both of these guys had found themselves in similar situations before. Ironically, both quarterbacks had found themselves competing for the starting job at the University of Georgia just thirty months prior to this moment.
Competition at Georgia
Fromm was a true freshman when he burst onto the scene in Georgia in the opening game of the season, against Appalachian State, in the second quarter when Eason, the incumbent starter, went down with an ankle injury. Fromm finished the game with a win, 45-0. It became clear that Eason wouldn’t be good to go the following week, a big game on the road against Notre Dame.
“[Fromm is] no ordinary true freshman,” wide receiver Javon Wims said after the Spring Game. “He has the poise of a senior.”
Fromm was able to lead the team to a 20-19 win, much to the surprise of the nation, including making some clutch throws that ultimately set up Rodrigo Blankenship’s game-winning 30-yard field goal. It was Fromm that point on at quarterback (pun intended).
“The focus for Jacob Eason is to get healthy and be part of this game plan and learn what to do,” head coach Kirby Smart told the media after the win. “The focus for Fromm is to focus on improving and getting better. The point for both of them is to have team vision, to have the goal to make the team better. Both are working on that. It’s not just about them individually.”
Ultimately, Jake Fromm would lead the Bulldogs to an impressive 11-1 record at the helm, an SEC Championship victory, and a National Championship appearence that would ultimately fall short in overtime to the emergence of Tua Tagovailoa. Fromm’s career looked extremely bright.
Jake Fromm’s career in retrospect
Jacob Eason transferred out shortly after the National Championship loss to Washington, back to the state where he is from. Jake now had to beat out the number one ranked quarterback prospect in the country incoming as a freshman, Justin Fields.
He did. Entering the 2021 NFL Draft cycle, Justin Fields is projected to be a first round draft pick.
People argue that Fromm’s skill set was a better fit in the Georgia offense. While this is indeed true, Fromm flat out beat people out with his football intelligence and ability to take care of the ball. Let’s look into his career stats a little bit.
Fromm finished his career with 8,238 passing yards, 78 touchdowns and just 18 career interceptions in 42 games. He lowered that number every year while attempting more passes each year and throwing for more yards. He progressed in the right direction each year, something that not every quarterback entering the NFL can say.
Fromm is one of the most likable, personable guys that you will ever meet. He carries this joy about him and treats everyone the same. He will be a blessing inside of an NFL locker room.
So what held Jake Fromm from getting drafted?
The NFL Combine
Fromm started losing from the measurements at the NFL Combine. He came in at 6’1-7/8″, a concern to NFL teams, and 8-7/8″ hands. Fromm still stayed positive and upbeat despite the disappointing measurements. “It’s an eighth of an inch away from being the desired nine inches,” he said. “These are the same hands that went to three SEC Championships, a Rose Bowl, a national championship…”
Jake Fromm wasn’t considered a mobile quarteback by any stretch, but his 5.00 forty yard dash was considered subpar. Then, he came out and started throwing.
It wasn’t very impressive. His arm strength definitely lacked and was among the bottom of the players competing there. Former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner weighed in on his performance on NFL Network:
“I’ve been watching him down here,” Warner said. “… he knows what he is doing. Some of those questions about arm strength, being able to really pop the ball out. It comes to pass when you are watching him in person that you still wonder, ‘Is there enough there?’ Now, you can make up for some of that with his anticipation and some things that you see on tape, but I also believe there is also a floor of the type of physical ability that you have to be to be one of those upper-echelon quarterbacks in the NFL. I’m still questioning whether he has that or not.”
The past is the past… Let’s focus on the now.
Fast-forward to today, a few days after the conclusion of the NFL Draft. Fromm is a fifth-round pick and is about to compete in Buffalo for, presumably, the back-up quarterback spot. But wait, says I, not so fast.
Doesn’t this situation sound a little bit familiar?
Josh Allen is currently the incumbent starter in Buffalo. A seventh overall pick in 2018, Allen made positive strides from 2018 to 2019, throwing a better completion percentage and improving his quarterback rating, and Buffalo saw a playoff birth as a result of it. Allen’s arm is incredible, and he’s truly able to throw the ball to any spot on the field.
Brian Daboll is the offensive coordinator at Buffalo. He was the offensive coordinator at Alabama when Jake Fromm lost the National Championship in his freshman year. Daboll spent most of the season frustrated that the team wasn’t playing the better quarterback on the team, Tua Tagovailoa, and continued to play Jalen Hurts.
According to TideSports.com, “There was some frustration on Daboll’s part on personnel matters… These weren’t all that contentious, but they were frustrating for an offensive coordinator being asked to put his best offense on the field. Daboll wanted to play freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa sooner than he has given the green light to do so… Daboll saw what Tagovailoa was doing in practice against the best defense in the country and wanted to give him a chance once the offense started slumping in November.”
Clearly, Daboll prefers to play the best man. Keep this in mind.
Brian Daboll and his conservative approach
Daboll is known for a more conservative approach to the game and was criticized for misusing Josh Allen much last season, most notably by ex-Forbes sportswriter, Curtis Rush, in a piece published last October.
In this piece, Rush points out that Allen had completed just one pass of over 51 yards, a strike to Cole Beasley, and that Josh Allen’s average air distance for each completion was toward the bottom of the NFL at 42.5 yards.
To put this in plain talk, Daboll’s playcalling doesn’t allow Josh Allen to throw the ball as we know he is capable of doing. His conservative approach is more of a west coast offensive base, with vertical concepts woven into the gameplan used much like a pitcher uses a changeup pitch to confuse the batter.
The fact of the matter is that Brian Daboll’s offense is better suited for a quarterback with Jake Fromm’s skill set. He uses his current quarterback, Josh Allen, more like a quarterback with Fromm’s skill set now.
Will Jake Fromm realistically be the starter this year?
Will Fromm have a chance to compete for the starting job? Realistically, no. I don’t think that they drafted Fromm to compete with Allen. If Allen continues to progress, he might be able to separate cleanly as the better quarterback on the roster and make this an easy decision for the Bills coaching staff.
Realistically, Fromm will be the back-up quarterback on the roster holding a clipboard. Some people would argue that he will be the third-string quarterback on the depth chart, assuming that Davis Webb or Matt Barkley can win that spot in the preseason.
But let’s create a couple of scenarios. Let’s say Josh Allen regresses this year and the Bills offense begins to sputter. Could Jake Fromm be the guy that comes in and wins the starting job, never to hand it back to Allen?
What if Allen gets hurt this year, much like Jacob Eason did at Georgia. Would he be able to get the offense back from Fromm?
Only time will tell. What I do know is that Jake is going to show up to work every day with a contagiously positive attitude, ready to work, and get better. Jake’s not ever going to shut up on the practice field, people will laugh at his positivity, yet he’s going to command the huddle like a seasoned veteran. We’re going to be hearing reports coming from Bills practice and training camp, from players and coaches alike, all ranting and raving about his maturity, class, and how quickly he’s learning the playbook.
Josh, you had better not give this guy, Jake, a chance. The past confirms that for you.