Jake Fromm Is a Better Quarterback Prospect Than You Think
No arm strength.
These are all phrases you could use to describe Jake Fromm, and at least to a certain extent, all would be true. He's lacking in a bunch of key areas, and it's why he's (justifiably) not viewed as being a top-end prospect in this year's draft class.
It's also likely why the betting public has been pounding markets against Fromm. FanDuel Sportsbook has a prop bet posted about who will go higher in the draft between Fromm and his former teammate, Jacob Eason. Initially, Fromm was -118 to be the first one selected. As of publication, that number has slid all the way to +136, indicating the public is fading Fromm in a big way.
And that's just comparing Fromm to Eason. That's because it's already assumed he'll be well behind the other top names in this class, including Justin Herbert and Jordan Love. In Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest rankings, he had Fromm seventh among quarterbacks, trailing Jalen Hurts, as well.
Because of the downsides discussed above, it's not hard at all to understand why this is the case. Fromm has limitations, and those limitations put a lid on his ceiling, a con several of his peers don't possess.
Even with that being said, there's enough in Fromm's profile to think he could exceed the expectations we currently have of him as his draft stock sinks lower and lower.
What the Data Says
Fromm's lack of arm strength is a legitimate concern, and it's why he shouldn't sniff the top 10 of the draft. There's a massive gap between what you can get out of Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa and what Fromm is likely to provide. That arm, though, didn't prevent Fromm from posting some interesting stats at Georgia.
As a freshman, Fromm averaged 9.6 adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A). That was an increase from Eason's mark of 6.5 the previous season and led to Eason's transfer. It was also a better AY/A than either Eason or Love posted their entire collegiate careers, and Fromm did it in the SEC as a true freshman.
Fromm followed that up by posting a 10.1 AY/A as a true sophomore, topping Herbert's career-best mark of 10.0. He did that with the same right arm that figures to hold him back now in the draft process, again facing top-level defensive competition.
Those efficiency marks for Fromm were great and in line with what successful draft prospects have done in the past while in college. They didn't carry over into 2019, though.
In his final season at Georgia, Fromm's AY/A slipped to 8.1 as he averaged just 7.4 yards per attempt straight up, a dip of 1.6 yards from where he was the previous two years. It's why he went from a potential top-five pick to a near lock to slip outside the first round.
There are a couple of explanations for why this happened. The first is that -- like Love -- Fromm lost a whole host of talent around him with each of his top five pass-catchers leaving Georgia after the season. Fromm's numbers just didn't fall off as much as Love's.
|Final-Year AY/A Dropoffs||2018 AY/A||2019 AY/A|
Love also lost offensive linemen and pieces of his coaching staff, so it's important to note the quality of his supporting staff in his final year. That matters a lot. It should also be noted when discussing Fromm.
The other explanation for Fromm is the schedule he faced. More than three-fourths of his pass attempts came against defenses ranked in the top 50 by Bill Connelly's SP+, a number that dwarfs the competition other top quarterbacks in this class faced.
|Quarterbacks vs. Top-50 Defenses||Games||Percentage of Attempts||Average Rank|
AY/A doesn't account for the schedule a quarterback faces, meaning it's not going to factor in this disadvantage Fromm was facing. Despite facing the tougher competition, he still had a better final-year AY/A than both Eason and Love.
It's worth reiterating that this doesn't fully excuse Fromm's poor marks. Some of that was certainly on him as he imploded against South Carolina, and a tough schedule doesn't explain the massive gap between his marks and those of Tagovailoa and Burrow, who played in the same conference. But when we compare him to some of the second-tier quarterbacks in this class, the schedule is relevant.
The efficiency for Fromm was a plus for most of his career, and based on that, we should view him as being above at least Eason and Love. Efficiency, though, can be tainted if a quarterback lives close to the line of scrimmage and relies on other players to create yards after the catch. Once again, though, the data runs counter to this narrative.
In Pro Football Focus's draft guide, they have data on each quarterback's throw depths. It shows how often a quarterback threw balls downfield (at least 20 yards) and their average depth of target (aDOT), or how far each throw traveled beyond the line of scrimmage. Both numbers deviate from the narrative that Fromm is a checkdown artist.
|Quarterback||Throws 20+ Yards||aDOT|
As discussed in our piece on Hurts, this data also goes counter to some preconceptions around him and the Oklahoma offense. We should make note of that when discussing Hurts. Fromm's number is worthy of attention, as well.
Even though Fromm's arm lacks the big-time upside, it didn't prevent him from pushing the ball downfield and challenging defenses deep. He's had to deal with a weaker arm his entire life, and at least at Georgia, he was able to work around that and still go deep decently often.
Throwing deep is one thing; putting the ball where it needs to be is something different. Especially over the middle of the field, Fromm was able to do that.
Which QBs had the highest on-target rate in each passing zone in 2019?
A number of NFL draft prospects made the list. pic.twitter.com/HSJJDC4ZZI
— CFB Film Room (@CFBFilmRoom) March 24, 2020
So, if Fromm did throw deep and threw it well, why weren't his stats better? Some of it does seem to come down to his supporting cast, both in 2018 when his numbers were good and in 2019 when they dipped.
Per PFF, Fromm's drop rate this year was 3.6%, less than half of Herbert's number. This is not all on the receivers. They did seem to have back-breaking drops, though, especially on downfield throws.
The lack of athleticism is another legitimate knock on Fromm, and in 2020, we should want guys who can boogie a bit and create outside of structure. That's another thing that separates guys like Burrow from Fromm in an impactful way.
Fromm was able to combat part of this by getting rid of the ball in a timely manner. His time to throw was 2.50 seconds, per PFF, and it helped him take sacks on just 3.8% of his drop backs. That was the lowest among our top seven quarterbacks and a significant chunk lower than both Burrow (6.1%) and Hurts (6.3%).
This seems to be another example of Fromm being aware of his issues and accounting for them within his play style. Getting rid of the ball is even more important for players with Fromm's hand size so they can avoid strip sacks, so not excelling in these departments would be a major red flag.
That's all discussing what Fromm doesn't do well. The reason he's still being discussed in the second round despite those issues is that he clearly has high-level intelligence and can put the ball almost wherever he wants.
Having a strong arm in the NFL is valuable. But so are placement and smarts, and we shouldn't ignore quarterbacks who seem to have plus marks in those departments.
The NFL the past few years has shown us that teams value upside, even with high-end picks. Josh Allen and Daniel Jones wouldn't have gone where they did if that weren't the case. As a result, the betting market is likely correct in siding with Eason over Fromm. That just doesn't mean that's how it should be.
Eason is older, less experienced, and less efficient than Fromm, and that lower efficiency came against a much easier schedule. He's also not the world's most athletic cat. Basically, the only thing he provides that Fromm doesn't is a cannon on his right arm (throw velocity of 59 miles per hour at the combine versus Fromm's mark of 53). The negatives here are likely what led Georgia to picking Fromm over Eason when given the choice.
We can't appeal to authority too much here given that Justin Fields made Georgia look silly for sticking with Fromm. Fields is shaping up to be a top-end selection next year, and he doesn't share the same red flags as Fromm. If Georgia made a mistake there, it's possible they did the same in picking Fromm over Eason. The data seems to tell a different tale there, though.
If you want to bet on the player with the better all-around profile, now might be the time to snag Fromm given how steadily things have shifted against him. Betting him versus Eason seems the best route for doing so as Fromm's projected draft position is 46.5 with -126 on the over, and the odds Fromm slips later than that are high.
But with the positives Fromm brings, it's possible that shouldn't be the case. He's a far cry from Burrow and Tagovailoa, and it's much easier to build a case for drafting someone like Herbert early than it is Fromm. But given the likely low-end cost tied to Fromm, he seems like a worthwhile investment for a front office, even with all the negatives accounted for.