Why Jake Fromm's NFL Draft decision might be the most interesting of any player in college football
I don’t necessarily want to say it’s been a “quiet” year for Jake Fromm.
I’m not sure you can be a starting quarterback at a place like Georgia and have a ho-hum season. Fromm has had moments where it looked like he regressed working with an extremely inexperienced group of pass-catchers (South Carolina) and he’s had moments in which he looked like an All-American, next-level quarterback (Florida).
He has gotten some, but not all of the blame for Georgia’s often-stagnant offense, though much of that has been put on offensive coordinator James Coley. Fromm is averaging career worsts in quarterback rating, yards per attempt and touchdown passes per game, yet he ranks in the middle of the SEC in most major passing categories and he’s doing so for a team that has a Playoff path in mid-November and is a win/Florida loss from a 3rd consecutive division title.
Fromm’s year might be what some would call quiet compared to the past 2. After all, he didn’t have a 5-star quarterback to fend off. His year could get loud down the stretch depending on how well Georgia plays.
But at the end of the season, the draft-eligible Georgia quarterback has what I believe is the most interesting decision of any player in the country. Stay for a 4th year at Georgia? Or leave for the NFL?
Had you asked me that before the season, I would have said there was little doubt that Fromm would return. He was in all the mock drafts. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller told us before the season on The SDS Podcast that he liked Fromm more than he liked Tua Tagovailoa. ESPN even reported that he was part of a select group of juniors-to-be who took part in a private draft prep training session called the “NCAA’s Elite Football Symposium.”
However, seeing the way this season has gone with Coley as the primary play-caller, Fromm is going to have a tougher decision to make than someone like Tagovailoa or Chase Young. And if history is any indication, it could have a ripple effect that’s felt across college football.
Think about this.
If Fromm returns, Georgia will be in the preseason conversation as a top 3 team in America. With LSU losing Joe Burrow, Oklahoma losing Jalen Hurts, Alabama possibly losing Tagovailoa, all eyes would shift to Trevor Lawrence-led Clemson, Justin Fields-led Ohio State and Fromm-led Georgia.
Why would Fromm return, you ask?
A few reasons. We don’t know what the next month entails for Georgia. But if there is a feeling of “unfinished business” with a season that ends with anything short of an SEC Championship and a Playoff berth, that could be a factor. It’s unknown what Fromm’s exact draft stock is as of right now — many seem to have shifted to putting him more in the Day 2 conversation as opposed to the Round 1 love he had entering 2019 — but it’s hard to imagine that this “quiet” season has helped it.
There’s a scenario that I could see playing out at season’s end that I realize that the parties involved would never let see the light of day. So instead of waiting for that to happen, why don’t I just make up the scene for how it could go down:
***Fromm walks into Kirby Smart’s office fresh off a 3-day hunting trip and pulls up a chair. For some reason, Fromm is still covered in camouflage from head to toe. He’s even got a little deer blood on his jacket.***
Smart: Ah, Jake. Good to see you. Have enough time away to make up your mind about next year?
Fromm: Yeah, coach. It was awesome. I had a couple 12-point bucks and …
Smart: Save that for your Instagram account, Jake. What are we thinking about next year?
Fromm: Well, you know I love Georgia. I’d stay here forever if I could.
Smart: Look, I get it. Everybody wants to play in the NFL. I totally support your decision …
Fromm: I’m not finished.
Smart: My bad. I’m so used to you guys leaving early for the league that my brain is programmed to say that.
Fromm: What I realized as I was waiting on this family of deer to wake up was that I would love to come back for my senior year, but only under the following condition.
Smart: You name it. Free Cabela’s for life? Want my Waffle House platinum card?
Fromm: No. I need a new offensive coordinator. I need you to let Coley go and get out there and find me the next Joe Brady. I saw what he did for Joe Burrow’s career. The dude went from decent at best to possibly the No. 1 overall pick. That’s the kind of senior season I want. I want to beat Bama. I want to win a national title. But if I come back, I’m not gonna be able to do that with this run-run-pass nonsense like it’s 1995. You want me to play for you in 2020? Get me an offensive coordinator who realizes it’s 2020.
Smart: Wow. That’s a tall order, Jake. Let me think about this and get back to you. Keep this between you and me.
Fromm: For sure.
***Fromm gets up and turns to leave Smart’s office. Before he can pull the door open, he hears Smart.***
Smart: Wait! You’ve got a deal.
Would that actually happen? I don’t know. If I’m Fromm, I’m seriously considering that ultimatum. He’s more valuable to Georgia’s 2020 outlook than Coley. Smart knows that.
There’s a tweak to this scenario that could play out. Fromm might not need to make an ultimatum if Coley is fired at season’s end anyway. Lay an egg against Auburn and that hay might already be in the barn.
Maybe Fromm’s mind is already made up and he’s off to the NFL regardless of what happens the next few weeks. The guy has a large enough sample size to be judged on. Surely nobody would fault him for leaving after 3 years as a starter.
The next-level skills are there. Fromm can read defenses at an advanced level, he throws the back-shoulder ball as well as anyone in America and he’d shine in the combine setting. Todd McShay said he’s never been around a quarterback in meetings who impressed him like Fromm. The leadership, the football IQ and the physical ability are all there. That combination might make this an easier decision fro Fromm than the average person realizes.
All I know is there’s a big decision that’s coming in Athens. If it’s off to the NFL, well, I’d assume Smart would head to the transfer portal to find Fromm’s successor. If it’s back to Georgia, well, I’d assume Fromm’s return would fire up the preseason national title hype as much as ever.
Either way, Fromm’s year is about to get much louder.