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Jake Fromm
QB KlassRoom

QB Klassroom: Georgia QB Jake Fromm

by Derrik Klassen
Updated On: September 24, 2019, 10:56 am ET
Georgia QB Jake Fromm vs Notre Dame (9/21/2019)
 Left OutsideLeft MiddleRight MiddleRight OutsideTotal
20+1/1 0/13/44/6
16-202/2 (1 TD)   2/2
11-151/11/1  2/2
6-10 3/3  3/3
1-52/21/13/4 6/7
0 3/33/3 6/6
Total6/6 (1 TD)8/86/83/423/26 (1 TD)

Situational Accuracy

Outside the Pocket: 2/2

Under Pressure: 3/3

Red Zone: 4/4 (1 TD)

3rd/4th Down: 7/9 (4 conversions, 1 TD)

Forced Adjustments: 3

Jake Fromm is a beacon of consistency in a sport that doesn’t lend itself to any. There is an unusual pleasure to be taken in watching a college quarterback who almost always makes the right throw at the right time to the right location. 21-year old kids don’t do much of anything right, let alone play quarterback at a high level in the SEC. Maybe Fromm’s highlight reel is shorter and not as inspiring as many other top quarterbacks, but his folly files are not nearly as lengthy or embarrassing, either. 

For the fourth time in three seasons, Fromm steered Georgia to a win versus an opponent ranked in the AP Top-10. Those four wins are against No.4 Auburn and No.2 Oklahoma in 2017, No.9 Florida in 2018, and now No.7 Notre Dame in 2019. Fromm completed 20-of-26 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown to beat the Fighting Irish — a respectable, but modest stat line produced in part by a conservative game plan in the first half. Unexciting stat line be damned, Fromm showed everything that would suggest he is a capable NFL quarterback against Notre Dame. 

Georgia’s offensive game plan in the first half was as conservative as could be. Fromm is already willing to take short throws often as is, but Georgia’s early play calling did not give him any other options whether he wanted them or not. Of Fromm’s 12 first-half passing attempts, nine of them were thrown within five yards of the line of scrimmage or behind it. The entire offense was RPOs and screens. Only one of his 12 attempts, a back shoulder ball down the left sideline to WR Lawrence Cager on Georgia’s only first-half scoring drive, went beyond 10 yards in the air. Funny how Georgia scored on the one drive they realized they had an NFL QB behind center. 

Aside from the throw to Cager, Fromm had just one throw in the first half that was not off of an RPO, a screen, or a flat-route thrown off play-action. The lone throw from a real passing concept came on a 3rd-and-6 that showcased Fromm’s veteran awareness and confidence. 

Notre Dame show a “sim pressure” in the following clip. In short, a sim pressure is when the defense show more pass-rushers at the line of scrimmage than they actually bring and instead drop the extra player(s) into coverage. Sim pressures are usually paired with twists, stunts, or unique rush paths up front, which are freed up in part by the sim pressure forcing offensive linemen to respect pressure from a certain gap.

Fromm didn’t flinch against the sim pressure. Georgia had a variation of “Kelly Mesh” called and Fromm knew that the field-side cornerback could be exploited by the conflict of the flat player and the shallow crosser cutting from right to left. Upon receiving the snap, Fromm held his eyes and shoulders to the left for as long as possible so as to force the cornerback to respect the receiver in the flat. Fromm then suddenly turned and fired at the shallow crosser, hitting his target right in the midpoint between the two defenders. It’s not an exciting play, but it’s one that moves the chains. 

In addition to the savvy to make this play work, the quick, smooth nature of Fromm’s process is on full display. No quarterback in the class has as seamless a process between snap to read to throw as Fromm. There is no wasted time in his decision making or trigger, nor is there any wasted movement in his throwing motion. Fromm does everything the way it would be written in a QB textbook. 

Take this play from early in the third quarter, for example. Nothing Fromm does here is special, necessarily, but he moves quickly through his progressions and syncs his feet and shoulders up with his eye movements. Fromm is always in a ready position to make a throw, both mentally and physically. It’s tough to find many NFL veterans who are as smooth as Fromm in the quick game, much less any of his college peers. 

Fromm has a fantastic feel for where his outlets are, which sorts of plays off the same strengths as his normal quick game success. The difference is the added element of potential pressure and being able to move to a position that allows the outlet throw to be made, even if that requires a weird throwing platform or angle. He is a savant when it comes to getting short gains out of plays that very well could have ended up dead. 

That Fromm could move on from the curl route on the left sideline and immediately snap to the checkdown is special. It’s not special in the same way that a deep seam ball from Justin Herbert is, but it’s special in that very few QBs can flow to their outlet throw with such decisiveness and timeliness. Fromm also doesn’t need to reset himself to make the throw. He is able to lean on his back foot, draw power up through his back leg, and flick the ball out from a stable release point by maintaining squared shoulders. It may look like Fromm is throwing off his back foot out of fear of getting hit, but throwing off his back foot in that spot provided him with the quickest way to get the ball out and he proved to have the mechanics to make it work. Philip Rivers and Drew Brees, for reference, are excellent at this and should be models for Fromm’s work in the quick game. 

While the second half still had a handful of those crisp quick game plays from Fromm, it was a far more aggressive half of football for the Bulldogs. Of Fromm’s 14 pass attempts in the second half, nine of them went beyond 10 yards. Georgia suddenly realized they had an NFL QB behind center and needed him to throw them into a lead — and he did. 

Fromm’s best ball on the day, and most days, was the back shoulder throw down the sideline. The back shoulder fade has been a stable of Fromm’s game since his freshman year and it has only gotten better each season. Now with Miami transfer Lawrence Cager in the lineup, Fromm has the perfect receiver to win on that route a majority of the time. Fromm to Cager isn’t quite the same as Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson back in the day, but at least as a college equivalent, it’s pretty close. 

Timing and touch are the two necessary ingredients for a perfect back shoulder ball. Fromm excels in both areas and it’s no wonder he can marry the two traits together as beautifully as he does when throwing this route. Even beyond these three completions to Cager, Fromm was a surgeon on back shoulder throws all throughout the second half. A few of them resulted in incompletions because it’s still a tough play for the receiver, but Fromm gave his guys a strong chance to win the rep every time he threw the back shoulder. 

What is conflicting about Fromm’s game is that while his touch, timing, and veteran-like feel for the game are excellent, they are the entire foundation of his skill set because he does not have the physical talent to keep up with other top quarterbacks. The play making tools just aren’t there the way they are for most first-round quarterbacks. 

Fromm is an okay athlete, but he is no better than Andy Dalton, and he isn’t a better athlete than other top prospects like Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa, and Jordan Love. Fromm also has a weaker arm than his future-pro peers. While Fromm’s arm has looked stronger through a few games this season, he entered the year with questions about whether he had the velocity to cut it in the NFL and that issue still crops up from time to time. Thankfully, it only proved to be an issue once versus Notre Dame. 

This throw is a glaring example of Fromm’s middling arm. Fromm makes the right read and throws with excellent timing, but the ball dies out down the field and forces the receiver to make a diving effort. The receiver could have caught it, but Fromm forced him to make an adjustment he had no excuse for forcing and the receiver ultimately could not reel it in. Considering Fromm was not impeded in the pocket and the window over the middle of the field was wide open, he should be able to hit the receiver right in the chest a majority of the time. Fromm’s charting results only produced three inaccurate passes (and one was his last throw of the game following a bad snap), but this miss still provides valid concern for those who aren’t sure about how his arm will fare in the NFL. 

Brain versus brawn has and will continue to define Fromm’s NFL draft status. Mentally, Fromm has everything an NFL quarterback needs: vision, decisiveness, confidence, fearlessness under pressure, and creative problem solving from within the pocket. Fromm is never going to be a playmaker, though, and will instead be a quarterback who needs a well-constructed offense that he can orchestrate by winning pre-snap and being an elite distributor. Current-day Tom Brady, Brees, and Rivers are all the same way, but it’s asking a lot of a 21-year-old to step into the league and function like three Hall of Famers out of the gate. 

More realistically, Fromm is Andy Dalton with the potential to develop physically and become Alex Smith-plus. Dalton is a fair starting point as a capable NFL quarterback who wins by handling pre-snap well and throwing with baseline accuracy, while often coming up short as a playmaker and with regards to arm strength. Smith is in a similar boat, but is a tier above as a physical talent and does a better job to minimize mistakes while still generating enough positive plays to turn in winning football. A Smith comparison may not get people excited for Fromm, but Smith played a lot of good ball in the NFL. A dozen or so teams in the league would be better if they got Smith-level play instead of whatever they are getting from their current quarterbacks. 

Fromm will likely be withheld from the QB1 conversation because he is nowhere near the talent Herbert and Tagovailoa are, but purely with regards to managing the responsibilities of the position, Fromm is ahead of the curve. Where exactly that leaves him in the eyes of the NFL is unclear, though NFL teams do tend to overvalue arm strength and that will not bode well for Fromm. At the least, Fromm should be viewed as QB3 right now, firmly ahead of still-developing or project passers such as Jordan Love, Jacob Eason, and KJ Costello.

Derrik Klassen

Derrik Klassen is an NFL, NFL Draft and college football writer covering CFB and NFL Draft for NBC Sports EDGE. Derrik also covers the NFL for Football Outsiders. Find him on Twitter @QBKlass.